Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

Local Leaders Reinforce Houston as Welcoming City

onaic300Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced the creation of the Office of New Americans, an office which will assist immigrants and refugees with services that will help with their integration into their new hometown. By looks of the website, it is more of a clearinghouse of information, and that’s a good thing.

The Mayor reiterated Houston’s commitment to being a Welcoming City, stating that a task force he created on immigrant communities is developing best practices on how to address the needs of the immigrant community. To the community he said he has their backs.

“Many members of our community are living in fear and asking whether they will continue to have a place in our great city,” said Mayor Turner. “I want all of our residents, including immigrants and refugees, and people of all faiths, to feel safe and protected.  The Houston that existed before the November election is the Houston that still exists today.  We will not tolerate violence or criminal activity against anyone.  Houston is going to remain a city where all are welcome, where neighbors look out for one another and where we are proud of our diversity.”

He passed the mic over to new Houston ISD Superintendent Carranza who stated that schools will not be where immigration raids take place. Citing past Supreme Court decisions, he strongly reiterated that all students have a right to a free education.

Carranza went on to list some of the tasks they have worked on to show their commitment:  Distribution of immigrant rights fact sheets; Hosting a DREAM Summit to provide college and financial aid information to parents and students; and utilizing teachers to distribute information to encourage open discussion on political topics; and a January 4 informational phone bank to assist immigrant families.

Finally, Carranza stated that public schools are not in the immigration enforcement business and that they do not track student immigration statuses. “We will see you in school every single day.”

Chief Art Acevedo encouraged the immigrant community to work with HPD in reporting crimes and facts of crimes without fear of deportation or detention. Acevedo stated that HPD is in place to fight crime and their singular goal is to go after those who do wrong. In Spanish, he stated, “No somos agentes de inmigracion,” or, “We are not immigration agents.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and State Senator Sylvia Garcia also addressed the press conference ensuring constituents that they would stay strong in the fight against bad anti-immigrant policies. State Rep. Gene Wu stated that “we will not be divided and that we stand as one.”

Councilmembers Laster and Gallegos also reflected on the diversity of Houston as a source of strength, stating that they will continue to be of service to the immigrant community. Laster’s is the most ethnically diverse council district, while Gallegos’ is a strongly Latino-populated district. “Everyone will be heard and respected,” stated Laster.

I was unable to attend, but thanks to a couple of buddies and KHOU, I was able to watch the live feed. At the tail end of the press conference, there was a bit of back and forth regarding sanctuary cities, but as feeds go, they were sort of going kaput. Needless to say, Sanctuary Cities will be a major issue in Texas in the Legislature. Dan Patrick has committed to passing Senate Bill 4, a bill to ban sanctuary cities. Will Houston utilize its lobbying pros to try to knock that bill down? (At least, that’s what I would have asked.)

[Here’s a cold, hard fact:  While it is easy to commit to protecting children of immigrants from raids and rhetoric, their parents have just as big, if not bigger, target on them and deserve protection, too.]

From the looks of online reactions, many left the press conference feeling good about Houston and what they had just heard. The fact of the matter is that there are real battles ahead which require political leaders at all levels to take a stand against anti-immigrant policies. But as my friend Cesar Espinosa of FIEL called the Mayor’s new initiatives, “it’s an important first step.”

We’ll keep an eye on things. And, thank you, Houston leaders, for stepping up.

Mayor Turner Signs DACA Letter to Trump; Will Announce Welcoming City Effort

turnerThere’s been a soft grumble regarding what some activists call a lack of attention by Mayor Turner and the City of Houston’s commitment to keeping the city’s law enforcement out of the immigration enforcement business in this new era of Trump.

The recent hiring of HPD Chief Art Acevedo and the recent signing of a letter by many big city mayors, including Turner, asking soon-to-be President Trump to protect DACA beneficiaries from deportation, have provided somewhat of a signal of where the Mayor stands. During his stint in Austin, Chief Acevedo spoke out against the use of 287(g), an immigration enforcement tool for local law enforcement agencies.

While speaking out against 287(g) as a law enforcement leader brings a little comfort, the DACA letter only represents the protection of less than 800K young people nationwide from deportation. Of course, with 287(g) still in play, so is the opportunity for racial profiling and immigration round-ups. Activists want to see more from local governments given Trump’s standing on deportations.

Since election day, many city mayors have come out against 287(g) and the federalizing of local law enforcement, including some of Texas’ large cities. Specifically, they have stated they would not cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Locally, incoming Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been vocal, as well.

Local government leaders around Texas are now facing the threat of losing state funding if they remain “sanctuary cities.” Greg Abbott has now threatened universities who have committed to providing a sanctuary from immigration enforcement. The threat against Latinos and immigrants in Texas because of Republicans’ threat of legalized racial profiling and funding cuts is very real. The fear, also, is very real.

According to the Mayor’s public schedule, he will be announcing a community effort to reinforce Houston as a “Welcoming City.” Texas Organizing Project is promoting the Monday morning, December 12, event on Facebook to be held at 9AM at NCI Baker-Ripley Chase Opportunity Center, 6500 Rookin, 77074.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Greg Abbott’s War on Latinos Continues

uglyLet’s face it, when it comes to the issue of immigration, Republicans like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Donald Trump have placed a target on Latinos. They’ve gone from supporting a ban on sanctuary cities to wasting billions of tax dollars on a border surge. Now, Abbott wants to target college campuses who protect immigrant college students from immigration raids.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is promising to cut funds to public universities that become what he described as “sanctuary” campuses for immigrant students. The Republican provided no other details.

Abbott tweeted the vow Thursday in response to a story about Texas State University students urging school leaders to declare the campus a “sanctuary” as immigrant students nationwide fear deportation under President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump pledged during his campaign to launch a “deportation force” and end the practice of granting temporary status to students in the U.S. illegally. The University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater, has pledged to block federal agents without a warrant from removing students in the country illegally.

No, there’s nothing specific, but Republicans in the Texas Lege have already filed bills to ban sanctuary cities, cut financial aid and in-state tuition for DREAMers, among other bills. These racist threats against Latinos have only increased since election day, including a new call to cut funding for city governments deemed sanctuary cities.

Abbott, who gained some favor for his campaign by parading around his hispanic mother-in-law is showing what he really thinks about the Latino community–again! While immigrant students may be the target, there’s no doubt that federalizing local law enforcement will increase racial profiling. It affects us all.

And for what? To earn political capital with his right-wing-nuts?

With exit polls showing Trump earned less than 20% of the Latino vote, the Republican Party is showing how little they respect the Latino electorate. They’ve been doing it for a long time, but in kinder, gentler tones. Now, there’s a good chance their racism will turn into public policy.

It looks like it’s another legislative session on the defensive for Latinos.

 

 

12/8/2016: Panel Discussions on US-Mexico Business Environment

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Texas Republicans File Hateful Sanctuary Cities Bill

nomexHateful Texas House Republicans emboldened by Trump and his bigoted ilk have filed a bill that would cut state funding to so-called sanctuary cities. And their grand wizard, Dan Patrick, has made SB4 a priority.

The legislation by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, seeks to short circuit “sanctuary city” policies that prohibit or discourage police, jail personnel, prosecutors and other officials from inquiring into the immigration status of anybody who has been arrested or detained.

“By electing a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress, the American people made it clear that solving our illegal immigration crisis must be a priority,” Perry said in a statement. “That starts by eliminating sanctuary cities, securing our border and enforcing the immigration laws we currently have on the books.”

Apparently, they didn’t notice that Texas counties like Harris got rid of an anti-immigrant Sheriff and DA. And they haven’t noticed that the border billions they have spent these last two sessions have been a complete failure and waste. The target is obvious.

Federalizing local police and jails is the first step to allowing racial profiling to run amok, while increasing waste in jail spending. Incoming Sheriff Ed Gonzalez ran on a campaign to rid Harris County jail of programs like 287g, which basically puts local resources into the immigration money game. 287g and Secure Communities have been terribly flawed deportation programs which have destroyed families and affected local economies.

No, it’s not surprising that this bill came up, again. What we should be ready for is racist rhetoric and activity that will surely be thrown at the Latino and immigrant community. And there will be no one to blame but the Republican Party (and any Democrat who happens to support it). Don’t be fooled by the “security” rhetoric. Trump and the Republicans are making it obvious who it is they are targeting–Brown people.

Safety Pins, Obama, and Immigration Realities

uglyIn this day and age of Trump, it seems there are a whole bunch of groups in need of allies. Fortunately for some of the other groups, they found an ally in President Obama. When it came to immigration, though, not so much.

2.5 million deportations later, and more action happening against unaccompanied children and families escaping violence from Central America, it seems the Obama administration goes merrily along with its removal policies. If anything, they also go along with Latin American policies which have destabilized governments to the south for decades and have been the reason for much of the migration to the US.

Of course, during the last eight years, our safety pin allies have been all for these policies, since I didn’t see any safety pins during President Obama’s two terms. Sure, there was the usual support for immigration reform with no definition of it. There was support for measures such as executive orders on DACA and DAPA, but it seemed it was only as things got closer to the political season, and only after immigration reform activists (DREAMers) forced President Obama’s hand after he stated he couldn’t do executive orders “legally.” Even so, criticism of President Obama was met with anger from liberals. Even on this issue, it appeared he could do no wrong.

And before an apologist lies and says “millions” got DACAmented, the reality is that it’s only 728,000. Not much of a fair trade between (flimsy and temporary) papers and deportations, right? That’s if you think political human trading is fair.

Yes, it was a roller coaster coaster ride during these two terms. Lost opportunities and priorities between 2009 and 2010 after the President’s “term one, year one” promise. A DREAM Act that went down in flames because of 5 Democrats voting Nay. As a hand-out to Republicans, President Obama offered 2.5 million souls to deport as a means of looking tough on the issue. Private prisons made billions. And anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment remained on a slow boil. Obviously, it didn’t work. Playing politics with human beings just doesn’t work out and it only emboldens the other side. And, the other side won.

Even still, we’re finding that Latino political participation probably increased in 2016. Surely, there were a lot more new voters because of increased voter registration efforts. And despite one exit poll that stated differently, Latinos supported the Democratic candidate with 80% of the vote. Desperation? Going along to survive? For sure, defending against something worse (Trump and his ilk). No doubt, some of us were flying blind trying to stop Trump.

And, now, we’ve got Trump. Needless to say, I’ve seen lots of friends and acquaintances and others who were apologists for President Obama now worried about the immigrants. And that’s fine. We need to worry. But we also need to act. We’ve needed to act for a long time, now.

All the immigration double-talk from Trump since election day, I’m sure, is confusing. We’ve gone from a “yuge” wall to a wall in certain places (Clinton actually voted for this type of “wall” plan as a Senator); we’ve gone from “mass deportation of 11 million” to deportation of 3 million “criminals”–and we still need to define “criminal,” because even the Obama administration has deported people with low-grade non-deportable crimes or no crimes at all because of 287g and Secure Communities. I’m sure it will confuse the best allies.

Will it get worse under Trump? Obviously, many think so given 100,000 already marching in Los Angeles and thousands more around the country. Liberals and other Democrats need to stop their wincing and let the protests happen. It’s the only way to gain momentum to take on what may come after January 20. Unlike President Obama, I’m pretty sure immigration is at the top of Trump’s agenda. And we need to support organizations who will take on this issue head-on–especially those combating legislation at the Capitol or in the courts, and especially in the media.

For all the allies out there, if I sound annoyed or frustrated with you, well, it’s because I am. Yet, I still appreciate you because we’ve united on so much, too. Politically, the Democratic Party and its elected officials will not be successful without full-throated support of the immigrant community, and by extention, the overall Latino community, which has been the biggest target. For decades, we’ve had the largest police force hunting us, and for decades, we’ve been the easiest political target for both political parties. It takes people to change this. So, if you’re really an ally, join the struggle. And stick with it, even if it might offend the establishment on our side of the aisle.

 

 

Obama To Launch Immigration Raids

MEXICO-US-MIGRATION-PROTEST

That’s right. The Obama administration is about to launch raids on undocumented Central Americans because 2.5 million deportees have not been enough.

U.S. immigration officials are planning a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children found to have entered the country illegally, according to sources and an internal document seen by Reuters.

The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina.

After calling to step-up deportations of Central American children in 2014, Hillary Clinton has somehow seen the light (the political light) and changed course on the issue. Democrat Bernie Sanders has been consistently for a halt to mass deportations.

Specifically, the raids and deportations target the same people Clinton wanted to originally capture and deport to violent homelands that these kids and mothers were escaping.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day “surge” of arrests focused on mothers and children who have already been told to leave the United States, the document seen by Reuters said. The operation would also cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age, the document said. Two sources confirmed the details of the plan.

I can’t for the life of me think of any good reason for Obama to do this, other than to solidify a legacy of horror. Yeah, I said it. Millions deported, hundreds of thousands warehoused in private prisons around the country, which even recently have been in the news for sexual and physical abuse of children. It is ridiculous that this occurs while local politicians use human trafficking as a “get tough” issue. With more children and mothers being picked up and jailed, should we expect more horror stories of abuse?

As voters who support Clinton show some odd excitement because they seem to think some Republicans will support Clinton over Trump, and it’s been in the news that Clinton has committed to selling her political wares to these Republicans, the timing of these raids makes me question pretty much everything–more than usual. Because we know how Obama’s deportation programs brought in GOPers to effect immigration reform, right? Or how Democrats moving to the right on immigration since 2006 have attracted so many crossover votes and big wins, right?

Thank goodness Bernie Sanders will remain in the race until the convention. Bottom line, his supporters need to be visible and vocal at the convention, especially on immigration and deportation reform. I would hope Clinton joins in on saving the immigration reform plank from those who feel they can attract Republicans in November.

 

 

Clinton Changes Mind, Obama Deportations Were Harsh

Hillary-Send-Them-Back-ClintonAfter defending Obama’s deportation policies for so long, Hillary Clinton has conveniently admitted that they were actually harsh. Clinton stated the reason for Obama’s hardheadedness:

“The deportation laws were interpreted and enforced, you know, very aggressively during the last six and a half years, which I think his administration did in part to try to get Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform,” she said. “That strategy is no longer workable. So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”

Some of us have argued from Day 1 that it was never workable and that there was a better chance of getting Latinos engaged on the issue if we went for broke on the issue–fighting for the best reform possible. Instead, we have theatrical gridlock, a pissed off Latino electorate, and, unfortunately, the same politicians vying for the Latino vote.

Sure, the Republinuts will pounce on this as a flip-flop (I call it primary politics), but that means they’d have to defend Obama’s 2,000,000 deportations, right? No doubt, Republicans are the worse, but it’s about time Democrats were better than usual, don’t you think?

It seems too many people on both sides of the aisle want to have it both and all ways. Some Dems want the Latino vote, while Republicans want a cheap Latino workforce. Either way, Latinos get kicked around and the issue gets kicked into the future, as always.

And just a reminder, there wasn’t much mention of Central American children escaping violence and poverty whom Clinton wants to deport without due process.

The Jorge Ramos Thing

Ramos Crosses the Borderline

Talk about shock value!

Jorge Ramos did the unthinkable at a press conference:  He started asking questions without being recognized by the guy giving the press conference, thus, pushing the level of Trump assholability to all new highs. “Go back to Univision,” gave many of us flashbacks of being told by bigots to “Go back to Mexico.”

The shocker was that Trump had security escort Ramos out the door as Ramos became relentless and just wouldn’t wait his turn–if a turn was even going to happen. But I think the whole affair lost its shock-value when Ramos was let back in and allowed to ask all the questions he wanted only to get the same ol’ Trump answers. While Trump may have ultimately gotten his way, he went the route of pissing off an entire group of people…again!

For Latinos, mistreating a media icon like Jorge Ramos was the ultimate insult. Some think of Ramos as the “Latino Walter Kronkite,” while others think of him as just a good news-man who does what he does to get to some truths that people may not want to hear. Right-wing politicians (and perhaps President Obama at various points of his career) have probably thought of Ramos as annoyingly relentless, especially on the topic of immigration reform.

Three-quarters of Latinos are not supporting Trump, while a few self-haters love the guy. Ramos attempting more “gotcha” moments will probably not change those few mindless Latinos. But it made for great social media political drama.

For me, what bothered me the most was Trump’s ability to sound like his white supremacist supporters– “Go back…”

 

 

 

Poll: 25% of Latinos Are Clueless, Self-Hating Trump Supporters?

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Credit: Lalo Alcaraz/GoComics

While the media is selling the latest poll of Latino thoughts on Donald Trump as “75% having a negative view.” I’m pretty concerned about a quarter of those polled being accepting of Trump’s message; not surprised, but concerned, as they could easily accept the usual GOP message on Latinos and immigrants. Given recent elections, they probably have accepted the GOP message.

More specifically, the poll found the following:

Asked to assess that comment (about immigrants being rapists and drug dealers), 55 percent of Latinos said that the remarks were “insulting and racist and have no place in a campaign for president.”

Another 29 percent said that “Trump should have been more careful with the language he used, but he is raising an important issue.” Fourteen percent said that “Trump had the guts to say exactly what was on his mind about an important problem we need to deal with.”

A huge majority also found that Trump is hurting the GOP’s image. I would ask, “More than usual?” Let’s face it, the GOP has a “nice” way of insulting Latinos and immigrants, which probably coincides with the 29% who felt Trump should have said it differently. Be nice, but we still won’t vote for you, might be the message.

Frankly, what the poll found is not surprising. That Democrats, throughout this Trump media frenzy, have simply pointed and blamed on the issue is disappointing. This is an opportunity to lead on immigration reform, deportation reform, and immigrant warehousing (detention)–and that goes for Bernie, too–along with the rest of the issues in which Latinos poll strongly progressive. Whether Dems will wake up to this is still yet to be seen, so, here’s another opportunity.