Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

Greg Abbott Tries To Match Biden With Idiocy

While Biden’s Border thugs go merrily along with their long-time practices, Greg Abbott went for the stupid and idiotic with his “steel wall” idea to stop Haitians and other migrants from crossing into the US.

Yes, he is wasting tax dollars on lining up miles of DPS vehicles on the border. No, really.

Since they are cop cars, one has to wonder if the vehicles have the motor running at all times and who is getting the gasoline contract to keep them filled. Because where there is government waste, there is some donor getting a contract. One will recall that Abbott just approved $2 billion for him to spend on “the border” in anyway way pleases.

A reminder that the money certainly isn’t going to fix the electrical grid.

There Is A Human Rights Crisis On The Border

While bigoted republicans call it an “invasion,” and others call it a humanitarian crisis, the next phase of a media-exploited “crisis” on the border went to full-on human rights crisis as a Border Patrol with lax regulations and bigoted members rode horses and whipped Haitian refugees as they rounded them up for President Biden’s Title 42 immediate deportations.

Honestly, though, it’s always been a human rights crisis. The Border Patrol and border-area law enforcement has a deeply rooted history of violently mistreating humans escaping violence and poverty–all for political purposes, no matter who is in power. And no matter who is power, the government does a great job of blaming “the other” for the crises it has caused in the countries people are fleeing. Whether it is Mexico, Central America, or Haiti, US foreign policy of befriending and funding right-wing zealots and their elections as a means of keeping indigenous and poor people in control is why these crises exist.

The problem is that the US thrives on people’s ignorance regarding foreign policy–no matter which party is in charge. The narrative of “the other” being the problem works as long as they use fear-based terminology. And people eat it up because they are ignorant and it’s not like candidates and office holders are doing much to combat the narrative.

As depressing as the stories are of migrants and refugees, it’s the stories of fighting back that have given me hope. Whether it is those who have crossed back into Mexico to find food and water for themselves, or the Haitians who revolted on a Biden deportation bus. Sure, they are met with violence by Biden’s Border Patrol, but they are willing to fight. They are that desperate for a better life and the US response of human warehousing, whipping, and horse-led round-ups is a global embarrassment, especially when our President attempts to lecture other countries, or he attempts to show how much better he is than Trump on global affairs.

And then there is that failure of a governor, Greg Abbott, who blames everything on Joe Biden. I don’t know why. Biden is deporting Haitians and other migrants at a rapid pace because of Trump’s Title 42. Biden’s Border Patrol is whipping people. All the republican anti-immigrant porn is available to Greg Abbott, but he wants to be the one calling the shots. The photo ops make it obvious.

And some will defend Biden by reminding us that Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki called the human rights violations “obviously horrific” and the Biden administration is “investigating” and “condemning.” But Biden is the President. He can end this. And he can get rid of people in the Border Patrol. And he can change agency policy with a signature. Who’s in charge? Biden or the bigoted Border Patrol (and their union)?

There is an old photo of Texas Rangers having murdered Mexican men and dragged them by horse from around 1915. Now, we have the Border Patrol trying to repeat history. Yes, only 100 or so years ago and things don’t seem to change.

Abbott’s Border Boondoggle Continues

While Texas is on fire because of COVID-19 and Greg Abbott’s policies surrounding COVID-19, Abbott continues his border boondoggle, throwing money and resources at an issue which requires nuance and creativity to mitigate–mostly, at the federal level. Abbott has never been nuanced nor creative, he’s just wasteful and a monster.

The Texas Trib’s Uriel Garcia wrote a lengthy report about the various sides and various demands advocates and blamers are seeking from Greg Abbott.

The DPS officials told Pimentel that once Abbott’s order went into effect, troopers would constantly watch Catholic Charities’ shelter in McAllen, the largest in the area for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a brief the shelter filed in court as part of a federal lawsuit against the governor.

If troopers saw shelter employees and volunteers transporting migrants, they would pull over and impound the vehicle, the director told Avilés and Pimentel, the shelter’s executive director.

In the court documents, Pimentel said if the shelter couldn’t transport migrants to the nearby airport or a hotel, the shelter would become overcrowded — and increase the risk of COVID-19 if staff could not transport infected migrants to a hotel to be isolated.

“We would have to turn away mothers and babies who are seeking temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance,” she said. “If we cannot provide humanitarian aid, it is my understanding that these families would likely be left to their own devices on the street, without access to food, shelter and medical care.”

Yes, the DPS is Abbott’s gestapo, going door-to-door harrassing human rights groups who are simply helping migrants seeking asylum and escaping violence and poverty. Unfortunately, the Texas Lege has consistently funded his anti-immigrant campaigns of waste with little opposition from Lege Democrats, nor from progressive groups not related to migrant rights groups.

I guess it’s just one of those issues that liberals feel will inevitably pass, so why fight it?

Anyway, Abbott is still collecting for a gofundme wall, while local governments are waking up to the reality of Abbott’s priorities: It’s all about politics.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, who has criticized both the Biden administration and Abbott for how they’ve handled immigration, said the governor’s approach gives a “false portrayal” that the problem is illegal immigration, when in reality, the problem is not having resources to help asylum-seeking migrants who are following a legal immigration process.

Cortez said a wall or more state troopers on the border wouldn’t stop migrants from seeking asylum. The Valley needs resources to help asylum-seekers be processed in a more humane and practical way, he said, rather than packing them into overcrowded shelters and the processing center at the Anzalduas Bridge.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much lobbying for this at the Texas Capitol from county and local leaders. Again, instead of being proactive, they have fallen prey to Abbott’s reactionary politics, and have even joined the game of blaming migrants.

The reality is that half (probably more) of those crossing into the US are seeking asylum as families. The Trib has a good video showing some of this reality.

Meanwhile, the word is that Greg Abbott is wanting to open a second Texas state prison (TDCJ) that he is emptying out by transferring inmates to other prisons in South Texas for the purpose of jailing migrants who have allegedly trespassed on private land while trekking through South Texas. But the first jail is hardly filled.

Reminder: The inmates are arrested by Abbott’s gestapo, tried, and convicted of a misdemeanor with minimal due process, then jailed at a former state prison. By the time all of this is done, they have either done time served or completed their sentences. Once completed, they are kept in the prison until ICE picks them up, if they even decide to pick them up. Those that aren’t are released by Abbott. And then things like this happen.

Last month, Antonio fled Venezuela with his father to seek asylum in the United States, saying he feared violent political persecution. He ended up in a Texas prison for weeks, accused of trespassing on private property after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio.

The 18-year-old was one of the first arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to lock up migrants on state criminal charges instead of referring them to federal authorities. He was also one of the first released, after prosecutors realized state police had, against orders, separated him from his father to make the arrest.

Once Antonio was out of the prison, it quickly became clear that local, state and federal officials had no idea what to do with him. Stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, he ended up at the home of his court-appointed defense attorney for days.

It gets worse.

“It really points to the fundamental problem with state law enforcement attempting to engage with immigration enforcement,” said Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “What we see here is the state interfering in that process … that now makes it difficult for someone seeking asylum to go through the process as intended and move quickly out of the border region.”

Antonio was released from prison last week after Val Verde County’s misdemeanor-level prosecutor dropped the trespassing charge at his first court hearing because state troopers aren’t supposed to separate families under Abbott’s arrest orders.

But days later, Antonio was still trapped in Del Rio without a path to begin the asylum process or reunite with his father, who was awaiting his own asylum hearing in Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which often takes immigrants from the state system to begin deportation proceedings, wasn’t interested in Antonio because he had no criminal conviction on his record, according to the county sheriff. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes asylum-seekers after they are apprehended at the border, declined to take on someone who’d already been in the state system. Neither federal agency responded to questions this week about Antonio.

Seriously, Abbott, DPS, local Barnie Fifes, nor the National Guard have no business doing immigration work–any of it. I hope Democrats who have returned to the Special Session will push back on Abbott when his Special Session demand for more border money is discussed.

Another Week in Anti-Immigrant News

Racial Profiling Stopped Temporarily

Greg Abbott had his bigoted order to allow racial profiling to stop the federal transport of migrants to “stop COVID” temporarily stopped while the judge considers its constitutionality. Abbott, of course, will continue to fight for bigotry by wasting money on court costs and lawyers.

While many of us will argue against racial profiling by Abbott and his bigoted nature of blaming migrants for COVID-19 while allowing his supporters to go unvaccinated and maskless , the Biden administration just wants to make its job of (ware)housing migrants easier.

U.S. attorneys argue that Abbott’s order would interfere with the federal government’s ability to transport migrants between facilities. Federal officials spend over $200 million annually to employ contractors to transfer migrants and to avoid overcrowding facilities, according to court documents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than 20 contracts with Texas private service providers and county governments for transportation services that cover more than 8,000 miles per day.

I wish folks would work as zealously for, I don’t know, immigration reform, deporation reform, and maybe a change in Latin America policy. This hurry up and wait attitude that Democrats seem to thrive on and the bigotry which Republicans win on, has made for a bad situation all around, while enriching contractors and private prisons, and a status quo for both sides to exploit.

Graham and Cuellar

COVID-19 spreader Lindsey Graham and Laredo congressman Cuellar are in cahoots at trying to get a “border czar” appointed. For what? I don’t know. They should be passing immigration reform, right? But suggesting Obama’s creator of the cages in which kids were caged, Jeh Johnson, is not a good idea.

Cuellar says he is doing in defense of la migra, when he should be calling for reforms on the bigoted agency.

I don’t know about y’all, but this reminds me of when Cuellar tried to work with another white supremacist, Colorado’s Tom Tancrazy on their version of bigotry back in the days of HR4437 and the creation of REAL ID.

ACLU v Biden

ACLU is challenging the Biden Administration‘s continued use of Title 42, which allows the Border Patrol to immediately deport migrants without due process. The rule was used by Trump in the name of COVID-19, and Biden is doing it, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an updated order that maintains there is a public health justification, given the ongoing pandemic, for the Biden administration to continue kicking out migrants without allowing them to seek asylum. The order can remain in effect indefinitely.

Can you see the hypocrisy? We complain about Abbott blaming migrants, but Biden is doing it, too. Biden just uses a prettier way of explaining it. But the Trumpening of Biden is worrisome.

In recent months, Mexico has been increasingly more resistant to accepting families expelled from the U.S. under Title 42, resulting in a majority of families entering the U.S. to be permitted to remain in the country. Biden, for his part, has previously said migrant families should “all be going back.”

Last week, the Biden administration began to speed up deportations for some families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border and cannot be expelled under Title 42, a move that further frustrated immigrant advocates and attorneys. The practice, known as expedited removal, has been used by Democratic and Republican administrations to allow for U.S. border officials to expel migrants without a hearing before an immigration judge.

And that is your bipartisan, anti-immigrant news for today.

DOJ Sues Abbott Over Migrant Transport

I’m content with the fast action of the DOJ in suing Greg Abbott over his executive order barring transport of migrants. The DOJ clarified the “who” regarding transport.

The lawsuit says that if migrants are not allowed to be transported by volunteers or contractors they would have to be confined to immigration facilities where there would not be enough space for every migrant.

Greg Abbott continues to blame brown people for COVID-19, but it’s not like President Biden isn’t doing the same thing by continuing a policy used by Trump for the same reason.

Currently, the Biden administration is turning back many migrants under Title 42, which allows agents to make migrants return to Mexico because of the risk of spreading COVID-19. This practice has been in place since the Trump administration.

The Rio Grande Guardian has a good explanation on what is going on in Greg Abbott’s ground zero for these gross civil rights violations.

For even more clarity for those who don’t know how things happen:

Immigration rights advocates say that Abbott’s most recent order would not only disrupt shelters who have been hosting migrants released by Border Patrol agents, but would also invite troopers to racially profile people. They also said that this would impact volunteers who drive migrants to bus stops or airports.

Many of the migrants have attempted to enter the country through the Rio Grande Valley. Many of them have requested asylum and immigration officials have released some migrants pending the outcomes of their asylum cases.

Some migrants stay at shelters until friends or relatives send them money for a bus ride or plane ticket to their U.S. destination.

I cannot help but wonder why the asylum process is so difficult on the Texas border, but seems to be fast-tracked in Florida.

We are in this not because of those leaving their home countries and coming in through the Texas border, but because the US continues to either impose blockades, mess with their elections, impose economic sanctions because they don’t like whom the people elected, turns their heads when the right-wing dictators they support violate the human rights of people, or are still practicing empire-building for the benefit of US corporations who steal those countries natural resources. But it’s a great political football for either side of the aisle, while meetings and press conferences continue to be held to determine whether or not to add some sort of reform to the budget reconciliation bill.

And that’s for tons of other blog posts.

Kuff has more.

Republicans Blame Brown People for COVID-19

Thus far, the governors of two failing states, Texas and Iowa, have blamed brown folks for the rise in the COVID-19 rate. They don’t blame the fact that half of their states have yet to be vaccinated or that they are run by anti-mask republicans, though.

In Texas, Greg Abbott has given orders to his state police to commit racial profiling to stop any car with suspected migrants from leaving South Texas in the name of COVID-19. Meanwhile, we don’t know the vaccination rate of his state police, county police who are happily assisting him, or his national guard members. We also know that more than half the state is unvaccinated because of him.

In Iowa, its governor blames brown folk, but the Iowa State Fair goes merrily on with no mask mandate while the medical experts worry about the kind of COVID-19 outbreak that will occur.

You can use a term like “culture war” all you want, but this is downright racist public policy. And those running for office need to call it what it is because the republicans sure as hell aren’t playing nice. Why should we?

The Attorney General of the United States spoke up and threatened to sue Abbott for his policy which violates civil rights of noncitizens in federal custody. Unfortunately, the Biden’s administration position has more to do with defending its right to transport captured migrants, rather than changing immigration and detention policy altogether.

Anyway, we are seeing what the republican platform will be in 2022.

This Week in Anti-Immigrant News

Greg Abbott continues his bigoted assault on migrants.

We already know about his GoFundMe wall and his Gitmo-styled concentration camp for misdemeanor trespassers who set foot on private property while escaping poverty and violence.

He has also called out the Texas National Guard to help out DPS in arresting migrants.

Now, he’s given the green light to DPS to practice racial profiling in South Texas by stopping any vehicle suspected of smuggling. All this, while Abbott seems to be blaming migrants for COVID-19, rather than his own equally bigoted, unmasked, unvaccinated supporters, which make up over half the state.

Abbott seems to be running one hell of a campaign tailored to his bigoted base. State Senator Carol Alvarado provided a response on her FB:

This attack on migrants & charities is a blatant culture war distraction from the REAL problems we should be solving:

✔️Fix the skyrocketing #Covid rate

✔️Protect our children from Covid in schools

✔️Improve our low vaccination rate

✔️Expand Medicaid

✔️Oh & #fixthegrid already

Another response to Abbott was this one:

Dani Marrero Hi, director of advocacy for La Unión del Pueblo Entero, an advocacy group, said it is hypocritical of Abbott to issue this order because he has not allowed counties to mandate COVID-related policies that could help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“For an area like the Rio Grande Valley, where I think a lot of people already experienced kind of racial profiling from cops, and we have local law enforcement collaborating with Border Patrol, this is just gonna have a catastrophic impact,” she said.

On the other side of the aisle, the Biden administration seems to be shirking its own campaign promises as they will continue a fast-track deportation program that immediately sends back migrants without due process. And it also seems that Biden prosecutors are continuing to deport folks who are supposed to be receiving some discretion from that kind of action.

Just a reminder, there are over 27,000 asylum seekers in ICE jails under Biden. So, is Biden building numbers for defensive purposes? What’s the deal?

Anyway, that’s the update.

Greg Abbott’s Gitmo Begins Housing Migrants for Trespassing

As I posted recently, part of Greg Abbott’s border boondoggle is to arrest immigrants who cross into private property along the border, while escaping violence and poverty in their own countries with no other place to go, and charge them with trespassing. Yes, state charges so that they may be kept in his very own state-run immigrant warehouse in Dilley, TX. And it has begun–Greg Abbott’s very own Guantanamo. [In the process, they lose the possibility of other benefits, like a green card or any future citizenship because of the way they are railroaded through the criminal court system.]

The Val Verde County sheriff’s office said the Briscoe detainees had been arrested on accusations of criminal trespassing. County officials previously said state police would begin arresting immigrants crossing the border, largely on trespassing and criminal mischief charges — both misdemeanors that could result in up to a year in jail. It’s a novel approach ordered by Abbott to allow state and local law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants for state crimes, since they have no jurisdictional power to arrest someone accused of the federal crime of crossing the border illegally.

“If you cross the river, and almost everyone down there has posted ‘no trespassing’ signs, so once you cross and get on the property, you will be picked up and taken to jail for trespassing,” Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens said last week.

The judge, a Democrat, said Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 149,000 immigrants in the Del Rio sector alone this fiscal year, the second most after the Rio Grande Valley, according to federal statistics. Hundreds of others evade detection by crossing further away from major entry points, often traversing private land, frightening landowners not used to such levels of migration, Owens said.

Texas Tribune 7/21/2021

And are Democrats going to roll over for Abbott on this? Obviously, Democratic Sheriffs and Judges seem to be salivating over this easy work as they get some prize money, This is a disgusting waste of resources that is all for show. Imprisoning people in need of help for political purposes is as close to violating ones human rights as it gets.

Aside from meeting housing standards at Briscoe, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez said this week that space and resources under Abbott’s directive will be a problem. His office has two prosecutors, with a third coming in two weeks, and the local jail was full in early July, the sheriff told county commissioners.

Martinez said arrested immigrants would be taken to a tent-like structure outside the jail in Del Rio for processing before heading to Briscoe within 24 hours. He said he would offer most arrested on misdemeanor charges a sentence of time served once they get through the criminal justice system, which he estimated would take about 10 days, and then they would be handed off to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where many would likely be quickly deported. ​​

“This is going to be very grating on everyone in the process,” he said. “If we start seeing numbers of 50-plus a day of arrests, we could easily be consumed by it.”

Texas Tribune, 7/21/2021

I await a response from statewide prospective Democrats. Beto? Merritt? Jaworski? The Texas Lege Dems in DC? Anyone?

The DACA Decision Is Still Joe Manchin’s Fault

Salon.com

Back in 2010, President Obama and Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate. The DREAM Act, which had bipartisan support at one time, sailed through the House. When it arrived in the Senate, Democrats had enough of a majority (60) to pass it and it would likely be signed by Obama. Unfortunately, Joe Manchin and four other Dem Senators voted against it, as did all of the Republicans and the bill only achieved 55 of the 60 needed votes. Note: Manchin couldn’t even be bothered to show up, but was on record against it.

You can blame republicans all you want, but some of us have known their bigoted tendencies for a long time and haven’t been in denial about them.

They were quite evident in 2006 when the Sensenbrenner Act was being pushed by Republicans, along with REAL ID. And this challenge to DACA was brought on by Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott because they are just that hateful.

But FIVE (5) Democrats voted against the DREAM Act in 2010. They blamed their “tough to win” seats and the Democratic rank-and-file went along with it and defended their vote. Thus, by 2012, with no more majority and republicans dead-set against anything President Obama supported, the only thing that could happen was DACA–an executive order for which immigration activists lobbied and practically forced Obama’s hand after he continually denied he had the power to sign it.

DACA has provided over 600,000 DREAMers the benefit of prosecutorial discretion and deferred action, thus barring them from deportation. And for nine years, now, it has been challenged by republicans, in the courts and by Trump. They finally found a federal judge who would call it “illegal,” thus sending it back to Homeland Security to somehow make it right. In the process, all new applications are cancelled, but the 600,000 or so are safe, for now.

I don’t know how many more still need to apply or haven’t for a host of reasons (financial, etc.), but since the legality is now in question, it is worrisome and emotionally tiresome for many. Furthermore, all DACA has ever been is a loose band-aid that leaves young people in limbo, while continuing to expose their parents to deportation and politically-driven harrassment by ICE and similar agencies.

As some Democrats in the Senate have stated, it is high-time to pass the DREAM Act and/or comprehensive immigration reform. But we are in the same predicament as 2010: Hateful republicans and a slight Democratic majority in which a few (Joe Manchin and Kristen Synema) seem to be holding immigrants hostage. They will not make it easy to pass anything; if anything, I expect opposition to citizenship and DREAM-type bills from these two.

Filibuster reform would be great, if Manchin and Synema could be trusted to support immigration reform. With Manchin attending a fundraiser in Texas given by high-dollar republicans, I can’t say I’m hopeful of much; other than being hopeful that la lucha sigue (the struggle continues). Hopefully, Joe Biden will learn to wield power within his own party; which was something in which Obama failed miserably regarding immigration policy.

Finally, I would have hoped that over the last ten years, Democrats would have learned a lesson about using their power when they have it. The myth that is bipartisanship only seems to work when the issue is money in individual members of Congress districts for their own pet projects. If it’s about helping the least among us, it becomes a hot potato worthy of political exploitation. And both parties do it well, as Manchin has exhibited on a host of Biden goals.

Anyway, just food for thought as folks try to find someone to blame.

Abbott’s Empty Immigrant Warehouse

Topping/Reuters

The Texas Tribune reported yesterday that Greg Abbott has transferred 150 prison guards from already understaffed prison units to the Dolph Briscoe Unit in Dilley, TX as part of Abbott’s foray into “immigration enforcement.”

Briscoe was chosen by Abbott to serve as an immigrant warehouse for those migrants targeted and captured by Texas DPS and sheriff’s offices in South Texas for whatever crimes Abbott wants them charged with. What authority Abbott has to do any of this is murky.

A spokesperson for the governor said Tuesday that the prison-turned-jail will only detain adult males charged with a state crime, without specifying the type of crimes. But the governor’s office said TDCJ is still “in the process of determining any changes or training needed to operate and house individuals at the Briscoe Unit.” The Texas Commission on Jail Standards’ executive director said Friday the agency was in the same process.

In Texas, jails primarily hold criminal defendants accused, but not convicted, of state crimes while their cases are resolved in local court and pursued by county prosecutors. State prisons incarcerate those who have been convicted of state felonies. It’s unclear which courts would hear the criminal cases of immigrants detained at Briscoe, or who would prosecute the cases.

I expect Abbott, DPS and border sheriffs will be whining at President Biden for free money to fund this bigoted debacle. Because Biden continues some immigrant warehousing ventures, it is something on which to keep an eye. Don’t be surprised if more funding and resources is demanded at the Texas Lege special session.

It is not surprising that Abbott, sheriffs, and DAs that support this from both parties would attempt to prosecute migrants for “trespassing” while they are escaping poverty and violence, as well as exploitation by smugglers and employers who may be involved. Abbott and republicans certainly are not seeking solutions to root causes of migration.

The Trib story goes into Texas’ severely understaffed prisons, but analysis on my part would require an investigation into who is in these prisons and why, as well as investigating overzealous DAs seeking impressive win-loss records for political purposes. And that’s a whole other story. For now, this story is really about Greg Abbott’s thirst for white supremacist policies which warehouse humans for political purposes.