Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

An Interesting Poll of Brown Folks

NALEO and Latino Decisions have just released a poll on where Latinos stand as the presidential primary gets going. And the results are not surprising–at all.

Latinos are paying attention to the Democratic primary  process and no one candidate is the de facto Latino candidate. The top five with the highest favorables are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. The poll also shows that Latinos feel that Dems are mostly doing a good job in speaking to Latino voters, while Trump and the Republicans are mostly hostile to Latinos. But Dems still need to work on it–a lot.

In regards to issues, it is health care, wages, immigrant rights, job creation, and stopping Trump’s agenda among the issues of which Latinos are more concerned. As always, immigrant rights may not be the top issue, but it is an issue that affects the Latino community, whether it is about the immigration and detention process or about the racism that is emboldened by Trump and Republicans. One way or another, all of the issues are intertwined.

In fact, 72% of Latinos want Obamacare to stay in effect, while 77% of Latinos also believe that migrants are not a threat and should be allowed through the asylum process. And Latinos respond negatively in high numbers to Trump.

Democrats have a real opportunity for Latino engagement and communication, as always, They just need to want to do it. Considering California and Texas are among the first states to decide on who should be the Democratic candidate, it would seem that small states like Iowa are still the “go-to” states for candidates and it is quite annoying. And it’s an easy way to escape a major portion of the list of issues Latinos deem important. You know, like immigration. The other side is certainly attacking–in rhetoric and policy.

On immigration, I’ve only heard good things from Julian Castro, who has an actual plan, and Bernie Sanders, who has a nice list of policy pronouncements. although Sanders hasn’t been artful in communicating against the Republican “open borders” attack. Frankly, this is an attack that all of the Democrats need to learn to combat. The Republicans are too good at spreading racism and hatred and this poll shows that fact, as well. Latinos are obviously tired of Republican racism.

Thanks to NALEO and Latino Decisions for putting out this poll. I do suggest that a “Latino debate” be held in California or Texas as the Florida one doesn’t excite me at all.

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Julian Castro Begins 2020 Campaign From SAs West Side

Thousands of supporters were welcomed by live mariachi music and were sent off with Selena’s music over the loudspeakers at a powerful kick-off for the  presidential campaign of Texas son and former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

In making his announcement, Castro listed a progressive platform which included Medicare for All, Green New Deal, fixing the immigration system (no wall and yes to family reunification), jobs creation, supporting early education and workforce education, justice/bail reform, and equality and equity. Offering the exact opposite of Trump and the Republicans, Castro set a high bar for the rest of the coming field of Democrats.

As a Texas Mexican, along with many fellow Texas Mexicans, I can say we’ve been waiting a long time for a Chicano candidate with South Texas roots. Given his appointment to the Obama administration and his trajectory in politics, I didn’t know what to expect from his announcement, but I’m glad that, thus far, he seems to be running on his own platform and not one created for him by some moderate think tank.

That said, there is no doubt he will have naysayers; however, those saying he’s too young/too inexperienced have now switched gears to finger pointing on one  particular thing Castro was in charge of while he was running President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development–dismissing a housing lawsuit against the City of Dallas. One must ask these particular naysayers, though:  Where does the buck stop in the Obama administration?

One other issue that will get some attention is where Castro lands on the issue of the PROMESA bill, which created a US-appointed and unelected oversight board for Puerto Rico, a process to restructure debt (bankruptcy) in Puerto Rico, and placed austerity measures on Puerto Rico, thus, cutting its public service budget. With the US in charge of this, public services could easily be privatized, while its budget would be reallocated to pay debt. After a destructive hurricane, the future of Puerto Rico is at stake, and those more interested in protecting creditors and creating wealth for millionaires, rather than protecting and serving the people, could only make things worse.

NOTE:  Lots of Democrats were on their way to Puerto Rico to discuss the latest on this, while also catching a show by PROMESA supporter, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I believe Julian Castro is included on the guest list and his brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro voted for PROMESA, despite opposition from the people of Puerto Rico and his colleague Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Puerto Rican).

Offering up such a progressive campaign platform, Castro shouldn’t be promising great things for America, while sticking a fork in Puerto Rico’s future. I hope that Castro (both of them) will come to their senses on Puerto Rico and call for reform of PROMESA.

Otherwise, Julian has the best platform I’ve seen from a candidate at this level in a long time. His speech delivery and the energy he received in return is something I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve been a fan of the Castros and I identify with their struggle, as do many Chicanos. For all candidates, though, if you run on struggle, it still must match up with policies.

As attacks on Julian Castro will escalate, we will be hearing more about other 2020 prospects. Whether it’s Kamala Harris’ jailing of poor moms because of their kid’s truancy; Klobuchar’s selling out on border wall; Joe Biden being, well,  Joe Biden; and the list will go on, Democrats will get to choose among candidates who have some bad marks. I just want to say ahead of time that criticism should not be thrown only at Julian Castro.

Thus far, given the names announced and talked about, and consideration of bad/good points of these prospects, Julian Castro remains at the top of my list. For Castro, wins in Nevada, California, and Texas would be huge, and my friends in those states are already excited about him.

Still, 2019 is just as important and we must vote in local elections, too.

 

The Border Boondoggle Must End

I skipped Stormy doing the laundry to watch El Cheeto do his usual best to divide and conquer an already divided nation–all for a wall.

What most Americans don’t realize is the “humanitarian” crisis he kept mentioning has nothing to do with mothers and children escaping violence and poverty in Central America. He seems to care more about the sensibilities of his racist base and anyone else who feels victimized by the mere sight of brown people.

Some were predicting lie after lie by Trump, and I haven’t had time to go over the numbers he spouted, nor do I want to. Whether one fact-checks Trump or not, he said it before a national audience and no corrective measure will cause a sudden change of heart in the bigots who support him. Standing against everything he is about is about the only thing that will work, in my opinion.

The Democratic response left much to be desired. Standing against the wall is fine and dandy, but funneling more money into the border boondoggle is not a solution when we throw money at one part of system (enforcement gadgets) but ignore the rest of the system (immigration). Ultimately, all Pelosi and Schumer presented was just another “tough talk” tactic to appease anti-immigrant hardliners to re-open the government and some pro-migrant platitudes from eight years ago. We’ll see how this works out.

Democrats are missing out on a real opportunity to change the conversation toward one that discusses fixing the system. Instead, Democrats want to keep funding a broken system in which human rights are violated on a daily basis; captured children have died; which continues funding baby jail contractors; and keeps the border militarized, in exchange for Trump backing down on a wall. Appeasing evil doesn’t sound workable to me, and Trump is definitely evil.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sure as hell has the right idea.

Beto’s Immigration Ad Is Pretty Good!

I was hoping Beto O’Rourke would hit back at Ted Cruz on immigration in some way and soon. I must say his ad, which I saw last night during the local news, is pretty good. He hits Cruz hard on his fear-mongering and support of deportation policies, as well as his obstruction on moving the conversation forward. Hopefully, it’ll be on rotation through November 6.

Check it out:

Inbox: Congressional Battleground Poll on Immigration Policy

From the inbox:

Washington, DC – Today, experts released new battleground poll results conducted by Latino Decisions – on behalf of America’s Voice, Mi Familia Vota, Indivisible, NAACP, and AAPI Civic Engagement Fund – of Latino, Asian American, African American, Native American, and White likely voters in 61 districts across the United States.

Resources

Voters of every race are upset and angry over the child separation and detention policy, by large margins. Even conservatives are opposed to the child detention policies and it makes them angry.  Overall 73% of voter in battleground House districts say they are angry about the child separations at the border.

There is a strong majority against Trump’s strict immigration policies and instead in support of welcoming immigration policies. 79% want to see the Dream Act passed, while only 36% think the Trump border wall is a good idea. By a 2-1 margin, every racial group opposes child detention policies, and the same goes for 2-1 opposition to ending domestic violence protections for asylum seekers.

Strong majorities agree that immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families.When confronted with competing messages on immigration, 61% of whites, and over 75% of Latinos, AAPIs and African Americans agreed that immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families, just like you and me, and support legislation to make America more welcoming to immigrants. Only a minority of voters agreed with the conservative narrative that immigrants are taking jobs away from real Americans and hurting our economy.

Voters of all races and ethnicities think Trump is increasing division and racial hostility. In 2016, it was just campaign rhetoric. Now, it is 18 months of living through his ugly rhetoric and his policies. Overall 60% think Trump has had a negative or racist impact on minorities, only 22% think he has been positive. A majority of every racial group agrees with this, including whites.

Finally, the poll reports overwhelming support for themes of unity and inclusion. Voters are tired of hostility, attacks, and division. Over 85% of all voters agreed with this statement: “Today, certain politicians and their greedy lobbyists hurt everyone by handing kickbacks to the rich, de-funding our schools, and threatening our seniors with cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Then they turn around and point the finger for our hard times at poor families, Black people, and new immigrants. We need to join together with people from all walks of life to fight for our future.”

Calling Out Our Own: Following The Money

Now, let’s see what liberal freak-out happens next

For years, the Democratic attack against Republicans has had a mantra to convince the voters that one side is bought:  “Follow the money!”

Some of us actually do.

When it comes to private prisons and the border boondoggle that comes with it, both sides seem to enjoy the cash that comes from the industry, and the Texas Observer posted an article which outlines how much money the Dems have received in recent times.

Now, no doubt, Republicans have enjoyed more of the cash, but that’s not the point, right? And this is a national problem as even Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and other nationally known Democrats are known to have taken tons of that cash. Some of these national Dems are even publicly calling out the warehousing of children while still taking that cash. When they start showing up at rallies, well, some of us get a bit annoyed.

In Texas, though, the private prison industry is huge. Corporations like GEO and CORECivic (Corrections Corporation of America) have been hired by the state government to house inmates, along with being hired by the feds to warehouse detained migrants. Some even run the “family residential centers” that have housed migrant families–and not just by Trump.

And the way some of these work:  Local government builds facility; locals give contract to private prison company to run it; private prison gets contract from state or feds; State and Feds ignore complaints about treatment of inmates, lack of health services, etc. It’s a vicious cycle in which multiple levels of politicians earn some easy campaign cash.

Needless to say, the list includes some of Texas’ favorite Democrats, such as former State Senator Leticia Van de Putte. I remember she supported the Texas DPS border surge that is still ongoing and costly. Then I see our own current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner having received some cash when he was in the Lege. No surprise, there are also “border” representatives like Judith Zaffirini, Tracy King and others who enjoy, or have enjoyed, private prisons as some of the biggest employers in their districts, so, their support kept those private jails filled to the max.

Others on the list have been champions of offender second chances and sentencing reform for poor offenders who can’t pay fines.

I’m sure they’ll have their reasons for taking the checks. Some may just call them “unsolicited” contributions. Current candidate for State Senate (SD19) Roland Gutierrez is one of those and is donating his $250 to a good cause. [Update:  Gutierrez has accused his opponent Pete Gallego of accepting a $5,000 contribution from private prison giant GEO Group; however, further research has found that during the 2013-2014 campaign season, Gallego accepted over $12,000 from GEO and Corrections Corporation of America.] But whether it’s now, when children and families are being locked up in these freezers, or whether “back when” the state of Texas was in a run-up to locking up every low-level offender to fill official and rented jail space, it’s always been wrong to support these badly run facilities.

But, there is a quick-fix! If a check was received, donate it! MALDEF, Grassroots Leadership, Texas ACLU and others are assisting in representing and bonding out detained migrants. Put this bad money to good use. Thankfully, it’s not as much as Greg Abbott, who has a price tag hanging out his hind-side for just about any right-wing interest. And, then, never take a dirty check again.

Remember the question posed by the Observer:  Could it become a liability for Democrats? For most of these Dems in safe districts, probably not. For former Lege members who are now high-paid lobbyists, even less. For Dems as a whole, well, the Republicans are already playing their strategy of “they did it too!” The Republicans are lock-and-goose-step supportive of the money and locking up immigrants and citizens, alike, but when the Democrats make statements against the latest Republican anti-immigrant policy while holding a check from the industry, well, it just looks bad.

Donate it!

 

 

 

 

 

#AbolishICE and Other Things Causing Liberal Freak-Outs

There’s a movement happening, but it’s a movement that has been ongoing for decades, now. For many Democrats, though, it seems very new to them–and something to avoid.

While immigration/deportation reform activists have been at it for over 30 years (the recent battles), Democrats have always shown a little fear of the movement–fearful of losing the white vote. But even the weakest positions on the issue haven’t been winners for Democrats.

Reagan’s amnesty increased enforcement. Bill Clinton’s immigration reform of ’96 was a joke and gave a big shove to what is today’s deportation and detention boondoggle. Given steroids by Bush and made  worse by Obama, it is no surprise that a white supremacist (Trump) is now doing whatever he wants today. But it must be said:  It didn’t start with Trump. And yes, Democrats did it, too. And it must be stopped.

Immigration advocates were very critical of Obama. But people didn’t believe us. He was the “hope and change” guy. How could he be so cruel? But (former Vice President Joe) Biden was sent to Central America, falsely telling the families that their children will not get asylum. Obama has an interview with (ABC News anchor) George Stephanopoulos, saying to people: Don’t send your children. We will send them back.

So many of the things are happening have been happening for a long time. And again, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now. But the stupidity of one administration cannot justify the malice of another.

Now, because of the heightened level of cruelty, it’s visible.

This interview on CNN gives a better view of what ICE really is.

The creation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) back in 2003 was in response to 9/11, fear of immigrants, and especially fear of Muslims. In other words, its reactionary creation was based on hate and bigotry. Given a two-prong job, enforcement/removal and crime-busting, ICE has become a gestapo of sorts, utilizing illegal tactics, racial profiling, and hate- and fear-mongering from the current president to destroy families, steal children, affect local economies, and create an air of fear within targeted communities. All the while making profits for the border boondoggle. In fact, it was created to act in these ways.

People must be reminded that ICE and Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) are two different agencies. CPB enforces the border. ICE does not. In fact, if you read the interview, it’s pretty obvious that ICE interferes with the others’ duties. Given reports of abuse of immigrants and children, both sides of this coin must be investigated and reformed–or even abolished.

This said, there’s been a bit of a freak-out among Democrats who fear Republicans will now start saying that Democrats are for open borders as activists and candidates call for ICE to be abolished or reformed. It’s gotten so bad, there’s even been some Whitesplaining and Demsplaining toward the movement, which doesn’t help one earn votes. It’s also insulting, so, stop it.

Our own Texas US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is part of the chorus for reform, as is 2020 prospect Kirsten Gillibrand. Others, have called to abolish ICE, such as future Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio and others running for Congress across the country. One way or another, candidates are listening and going beyond the usual weak campaign positions.

The big question:  When haven’t Republicans said Democrats are for open borders?

President Obama deported 3 million, warehoused hundreds of thousands more and Republicans said he was for open borders when he signed a doomed executive order (DACA) that didn’t do anything but protect a few from deportation. Hillary Clinton wanted expedited removal of unaccompanied children in 2014, voted for the original “border fence” and Republicans said she was for open borders. Texas gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez ran 287(g) during the Obama Era and Republicans attacked her as being for open borders when she called out Greg Abbott’s SB4 racial profiling law.

The Republican chorus is a broken record on Democrats who have supported the weakest of immigration reforms–open borders, open borders, open borders.

And still, the liberals–the Democrats– freak-out because they think they’ll get attacked for calling to #AbolishICE? Take a chill pill, people. Surely, we’ve learned to fight back, rather than to cower in weak, losing positions.

If there is ever a time to unite with a movement that wants to stamp out a corrupt and broken immigration system it is now. Whether it’s to #AbolishICE or to reform it, or even a call to simply stop warehousing children in prisons, the Republican attack will remain the same. So, stop the freak-out and step up to the fight. You never know how many non-voters whose trust you’ve lost may step up–to the voting booth.

 

Kids and Families Are Still Locked Up, Stop Celebrating

Nothing is more annoying than seeing liberal and/or Democratic activists  and politicians portraying Trump’s madman of a signature on a document that really does nothing about the current human rights crisis as some sort of victory.

Our friends at Mijente posted six things you should know about the Trump executive order:

  1. DHS will receive more money to create new family prisons that will hold parents and children together, while the parents are being criminally prosecuted and while their deportation cases are pending.
  2. Given that criminal prosecutions and deportation cases of parents can take long periods of time, and that children are supposed to be detained along with their parents, Sessions will try to get the courts to grant him the ability to detain children indefinitely.
  3. Trump and Sessions will continue to implement their “Zero Tolerance” policy and prosecute everyone detained at the border.
  4. The Department of Defense will help provide spaces, like army bases, for these family prisons, and build new ones as needed. Other cabinet-level departments are being recruited to do the same.
  5. Sessions will be given more resources to deport families faster after they are prosecuted, and appropriate the funding if needed.
  6. The order does not speak to any families that have already been separated — and existing policies place the responsibility on parents to find their children in HHS custody and seek to reunite with them.

If if you don’t want to listen to us, then listen to Elizabeth Warren.

As political as this fight is, it’s about human beings. Yes, children are being placed in cages and in “licensed child care facilities” adorned with prison-style razor wire all around, but we’re also talking about families seeking asylum, having escaped violence and poverty in their home countries; and, which must be repeated for the allies in the back, IS NOT A CRIME! Therefore, children, moms, and dads should not be locked up while waiting for what is an administrative hearing–not a criminal court.

Trump and his ilk are experts at public relations. He’ll throw out one-liners to appease his followers and the Republican Party. Allies must learn NEVER to give-in to their rhetoric–any of it. And yesterday was just another example that made it seem like some thought this particular fight was suddenly over and that victory could be declared just to poke fun at Trump. No, the fight continues. Lives are at stake.

 

 

Trump Planning Baby Jail for Houston

The rumors began with a “job opening” post from Southwest Key, the same “nonprofit” that runs the child jail at the former Wal-Mart in the Valley, that was making the  rounds. Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos and others investigated to find out it’s true:  The Trump administration plans to open a “temporary” child prison to warehouse children taken out of the arms of migrant parents escaping Central American violence and poverty.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia issued a statement:  Now is the time to gather together to stop this baby jail before a single child seeking refuge is locked up in our city. The Trump administration has made it clear that it will rip children away from their parents despite legal and child development experts telling them that it is unnecessary and known to cause lifelong harm. No law requires this. Humanity demands compassion. We must say as a community with one voice that jailing children away from their parents is wrong, it should not happen anywhere, and we as Houstonians will not allow it to happen here. Not now. Not ever.

Houston City Council Member Robert Gallegos:  While the City was not involved in the decision or notified beforehand, we will advocate for these children and do all we can to ensure they are cared for with compassion and dignity. Children should be with their families, not warehoused in a detention center hundreds of miles away from their parents. The Trump administration’s inhumane policy of separating families is shameful and goes against the very values our nation was founded on. Congress has failed on immigration reform so many times before. But now, more than ever, lawmakers must seize this moment to pass legislation to end this unnecessary policy and protect children.

Lupe Valdez, candidate for Governor:  The Trump administration and Governor Abbott’s fear-based approach to immigration is inhumane and un-American. These migrant families came to our border because they believed in the hope and promise our country has always offered — and we must treat them with decency.

Lina Hidalgo, candidate for Harris County Judge:  I am devastated that more than 2,000 children have been taken away from their parents in the name of the country of which I am so proud. Children are too precious, and their minds too impressionable, for any of us to stand by while they are traumatized. These children must be returned to their parents, and our government must end its policy of forced separation of families immediately.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado:  My legislative district has now been selected as a site where many of these children will be placed. Years from now, when these children have grown up, some of them will ask how Houstonians responded during their time of confinement here. These children need our support.

Beto O’Rourke, Congressman and candidate for US Senate (Texas):  When our country takes kids away from their mothers and fathers as punishment for coming to this country to seek asylum, when we call those kids “unaccompanied alien children” after we’ve forcibly “unaccompanied” them and sent them to shelters without any clear idea of when, or if, they’ll see their moms and dads again…we’d like to say this isn’t us, this isn’t what we do, this isn’t America.

State Rep. Ana Hernandez:  We will not stand by and silently watch while families are being torn apart and children are detained in prison facilities. A baby jail for immigrant minors forcibly taken from their families has no place in Houston.

More statements will be added as they arrive.

Beto O’Rourke Meets With Houston Latino Leaders

Continuing to make the rounds around the state of Texas, Beto O’Rourke, Democrat for US Senate,  has spent a couple of days in Houston rallying supporters and volunteers. Friday morning, one of his stops was at Irma’s Restaurant in downtown for a meet and greet breakfast with local Latino activists and community leaders.

A capacity crowd enjoyed a frank conversation with O’Rourke, who touched on issues such as post-Harvey efforts, health care and public education; however, a good portion of his presentation and the Q&A that followed concentrated on the human rights crisis at the US-Mexico border. Much of the crisis has been given steroids by the Trump administration as they separate families and warehouse children in badly managed private prisons.

Although he states that he is and has been willing to work across the aisle on sensible solutions, he states that Republican delays and obstruction to these solutions will only be ended at the ballot box when Democrats become a majority in both houses of Congress. O’Rourke stated his strong opposition to family separation, arrests and prosecution of parents requesting asylum, and child imprisonment. He also stated that he’s among those in Congress working on comprehensive solutions today, as we can’t wait for things to align before doing something.

During the Q&A, one elected leader, Goose Creek ISD Trustee Agustin Loredo, brought up the fact that much of the migration has been caused by US government and US corporations interfering with social, political, and economic standards of Mexico and Central American countries. O’Rourke agreed that there must be a better way to help these countries succeed that respects their government and economic systems, citing past US military operations which have removed democratically-elected leaders, only causing chaos and destabilization.

After taking questions, O’Rourke spent time speaking one-to-one with those attending.

I’ve always been impressed with Beto O’Rourke and remember when he defeated an entrenched–Bill Clinton-endorsed former Border Patrol chief–incumbent. So, he knows about tough political work. Above all, he’s a good listener. Honestly, I haven’t felt this good about a ticket-topper as O’Rourke doesn’t respond to issues based on polls, but on real solutions. He’s sincere and the real deal.

Asked about how he will win, he doesn’t mince words. The solution is voter registration, outreach, and GOTV–especially of those non-voting registered voters who have grown disillusioned with voting and government. While he knows his task is a tough one, he also says that it’s up to those who support him to spread the word–call by call, door by door, family member by family member.

So, let’s get to work!