Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

Thoughts on Viernes…01142022

Netflix Dumps Gentefied

One of the few good things on TV featuring a brown cast was dumped by Netflix. Gentefied featured a good storyline, well-developed characters, and good actors with my favorite city, LA, as the backdrop. I guess the good thing is that there was some sort of resolution to the show at the end of the 2nd season. What’s the reasoning for the slashing? Well, it didn’t appear in the Top 10 Netflix shows, so, I guess that was reason enough. Variety seems to defend Netflix by saying they are producing more shows with a Latin@ bent to it, including “I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” which will be directed and headed up by America Ferrera and others from the Gentefied team. So, yeah, it’s upsetting, but as long as brown actors keep getting employed in the future and more content is produced, I guess I can keep watching Netflix.

Judge Opens Up Challenges to Abbott’s Migrant Round-Up

A state district judge in Austin threw out the conviction of a migrant arrested by Greg Abbott and his thugs for trespassing. Abbott’s new initiative has thrown money at local law enforcement on the border to capture, jail, and prosecute migrants who are simply walking on private land while they escape poverty and violence in their home countries. These trumped up charges have closed down state prisons for use as misdemeanor lock-ups of over 2,000 men in Kinney County, wasting human resources and taxpayer funds. The case was challenged in Austin because Kinney County’s court system is slanted against migrants, with a corrupt judicial appointment system. The judge’s decision challenges the constitutionality of Abbott’s human warehousing program. No doubt, there will be more challenges to convictions of migrants who are being railroaded by Abbott.

Congress Wants to Investigate Abbott’s National Guard Deaths

Thirteen members of Congress have called for an investigation into the suicides within Greg Abbott’s National Guard and Abbott’s treatment of the National Guard as he uses them to add photo ops to his border boondoggle. There is a record of poor working conditions, delayed pay, and then the suicides which have put Greg Abbott in the spotlight, though, the problem is Abbott’s involvement in immigration issues in the first place. Abbott has put on a show for his bigoted base by putting up shipping containers to serve as a “wall,” he’s called up 10,000 National Guardsman from their otherwise private lives for photo ops and news conferences, and is wasting billions of dollars on a a few miles of “wall.” Seems to me he needs to be investigated for a lot more.

Voter Suppression is Real

New Voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots are the cause for hundreds of mail ballot applications being rejected for the March Primary. IDs are not matching up to information in voter databases, thus, cancelling out those applications. Republicans were warned that this would happen, but I guess it became more of an incentive to support it. The voter suppression is working.

Abbott Calls Criticism of His Border Waste “Politics”

Credit: Gay/AP

All those photo ops at the border, photos with Trump whining about the border, photos with National Guard members, photos in DPS choppers doing fly-overs of the border. Then there’s the billions of dollars wasted on this boondoggle with no transparency in sight, and the soldier suicides during this border folly. The criticism has piled up on Greg Abbott and it comes from Democrats and Republicans.

Abbott’s response, “It’s just politics.”

No, politics is blaming people escaping poverty and violence for the problems caused by Abbott’s own budget giveaways to the wealthy, thus making the Rio Grande Valley the most uninsured region in the state and still vulnerable to another freeze. Politics is looking away when local law enforcement is stealing money from undocumented people trying to find safety. Greg Abbott is all about politics and using his power to blame others for the purpose gaining the support of the bigots in society. But, we’ve known this. It’s just that it’s taken people too damn long to admit it for fear of losing “moderates,” instead of strengthening our base.

Thankfully, Democrat Beto O’Rourke has been speaking out a bit on Abbott’s border folly, especially demanding answers regarding Abbott’s mistreatment of the National Guard.

If Abbott truly cared about law enforcement (beyond using them for photo ops), he wouldn’t have sent 10,000 National Guard troops to the border while failing to pay them and slashing the benefits he promised them. He owes them answers.

Hopefully, he’ll call Abbott out on his border policies beyond the National Guard. Really, O’Rourke’s border pronouncements should be about ensuring human rights and access to services. The rest of the problem, such as asylum process and immigration reform is President Biden’s job, and O’Rourke can demand more from the White House.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle have also been calling out Abbott, but, they’re also the ones who fully funded the $3 billion Abbott demanded for this debacle without much questioning. They need to be paying attention before this crap happens, but they’re too preoccupied with passing something for their own districts. Welcome to the show, anyway, I guess.

Democrats have waited too long–years–to demand answers for Abbott’s border boondoggle. Abbott and his fellow bigots have done a good job of convincing border folks that all of the problems they face are the fault of people escaping poverty and violence. And Democrats have done little to combat this, even going along to get along with Abbott.

I hope that as O’Rourke calls out Abbott on these policies that those legislators calling him out back Beto up. Otherwise, all the complaints are just media-ops for themselves.

Harris Dems Respond to Pro-Migrant Protest

As I wrote last week, a group of pro-migrant groups protested at the HQ of the Harris County Democratic Party demanding they publicly support and join the demand for VP Kamala Harris and Congressional Dems to ignore the advice of the parliamentarian to not include portions of immigration reform in the budget reconciliation, thus including it in the reconciliation.

Although no one from within the doors of HCDP responded on the day of the protest, HCDP joined the groups this past week to agree that the parliamentary advice should be ignored and immigration reform be passed through the reconciliation bill.

Stated County Chair Odus Evbagahru:

“We have some friends here…. Last week, they came to our office; they were protesting & making sure that we’re living what we’re speaking & that we’re really intentional about that,” he said, welcoming reps from with Workers Defense Action Fund, Fiel Houston & Crecen.

“We need immigration reform now…. We can’t do it while our government is being obstructed. We’ve got to push…and we’ve got to push here at the local level. We’ve had these Parliamentarian rulings. We’ve had these filibusters that have been obstructing justice and obstructing progress. And we want to get rid of those because we know the importance of the lives at stake.”

We’ve got to make sure our voices are being heard; we’ve got to be sure that we are taking action and we’ve got to — as the Democratic Party — stand up and stand behind our folks who are asking for these actions to be delivered.”

President Joe Biden called for including an overhaul in the budget reconciliation originally, but it was suggested by the parliamentarian that it not be included as it would not have a budgetary impact as required by Senate rules. President Biden and Senate Dems are attempting to include some sort of immigration reform.

Mr. Biden’s plan would recapture hundreds of thousands of unused visas dating back to 1992 and protect millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for years from deportation. It also includes $2.8 billion for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to more efficiently process migrants’ paperwork.

Also

Senate Democrats have embraced a backup plan to expand the Homeland Security secretary’s authority to grant a temporary status known as parole to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for a decade, providing them with work permits and shielding them from deportation. The work permits would last five years, and then would need to be renewed for another five. The parliamentarian has not yet ruled on that proposal.

There is work to be done on a more complete immigration package which provides a path to citizenship and/or permanent residency, rather than a piecemeal and temporary permit approach that could change with a new administration. Where that lies in Biden’s and Congress’s priorities is still to be determined.

For now, it would seem that continued protest and calling out leaders at all levels works, even a little. It’s the ones who whine and moan about protests that we should distrust. Ultimately, the ballot box will determine who gets to stay in Congress and these pro-migrant leaders will remind us who is on the right side of history. (Looking at you, Synema and Manchin!)

Pro-Migrant Groups Demand Action From Harris Dems

Six local pro-migrant action groups protested at Harris County Democratic Party HQ demanding that President Biden and Congressional Dems take action on immigration reform as promised during the 2020 campaign.

CRECEN, FIEL, Houston Rebel Alliance, Woori Juntos, Workers Defense Action Fund, and United We DREAM marched and protested loudly outside of the HQ demanding the local Democratic Party leadership make a statement calling on their own leadership, specifically VP Kamala Harris, to disregard the parliamentarian’s advisory opinion and to enable a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation.

Pointing to the fact that Democrats hold the White House and a Congressional majority, the groups stated that an unelected parliamentarian should be ignored and action taken on legislation supported by 70% of Americans.

More than 1.6 million immigrants and 70,000 refugees call the Houston region home and 63% of them are non-citizens; more than 500,000 Houston-region residents are undocumented. This is a crucial moment. Our communities need democrats to take action reforming our broken immigration system, lifting the constant fear of deportation for them and their family members and finally offering an opportunity to fully integrate into our society. 

FIEL

FIEL posted video of the protest. Apparently, there was no response (or even a simple offer of support) from the local Party leadership. In fact, according to one activist, HCDP pulled a Joel Osteen and locked the doors. The protesters peacefully chanted, “Shame on you” and “We’ll be back,” as they marched away from the headquarters on Lyons Ave.

Meanwhile, Democrats in DC are still spending time playing “Gotcha!” with Trump, and getting embarrassed by sell-outs Manchin and Synema. Action needs to be taken as time is running out before Congress starts spending more time on re-election.

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.