Category Archives: DREAM Act

Kuff Interviews HD-127’s Cody Pogue

My good friend and former neighbor in NE Harris County, Cody Pogue has been hard at work running for Texas House District 127. Knocking on doors, making phone calls, and opening a headquarters, Pogue has committed to a truly grassroots campaign.

My colleague Kuff interviewed Pogue and it is a pretty good interview in which he lays out his stances on issues, such as education funding, health care, Immigration and the like. Give it a listen.

Deval-Great! Castro-Amazing! FLOTUS-Awesome!

Frankly, I think the vast majority of Day 1’s speeches were pretty energetic. Although excited about Mayor Castro and FLOTUS during the prime-time hour, the one speech I had been awaiting was Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

A young- and vibrant-looking fifty-six years old, Patrick has been on my 2016 radar for a while. I expected him to deliver and he really did. Smacking Mitt Romney’s record as a Mass. governor who left a big mess, the Governor went full-throttle calling on Democrats to grow a backbone and defend our own record. It was a great message for the base and then-some.

Was that a hit at another prospect for 2016, like Gov. Martin O’Malley, who flubbed on Sunday?  One thing is for sure, Deval Patrick is a staunch defender of Democratic values and even has a record of defending and supporting comprehensive immigration reform, in-state tuition for DREAMers, and even slamming SCOMM.

Mayor Castro’s appearance on the big stage was exciting enough, but I have the feeling he scored a lot of points for President Obama to close any Latino enthusiasm gap. He said all of the right things about himself, his family, President Obama, and especially the policies which a majority of Latinos support. And according to the media talking heads, Castro seems to have exceeded expectations.

Like I said, give Castro a real prime-time spot on TV and an energized crowd, and he will deliver. Of course, he delivers at your club meeting at a small mexican restaurant, too.

As far as FLOTUS is concerned, she manages to capture my heartstrings all of the time. I’ll be the first to admit that I was not a fan of hers during the 2008 primaries, but when she presented her family’s story in 2008, it resonated with me and my sisters. I came to find out we weren’t that different and that when voters seek to identify with a candidate, that is the kind of story that matters. Last night, she delivered for President Obama; of course, I wasn’t too surprised.

The Other Speakers

One guy that I haven’t been a big fan of was Kal Penn, but his presentation last night was pretty awesome. He urged young people to vote and declared that the administration is not done fighting for the DREAM Act. You can’t go wrong with that message.

A Preview of Mayor Castro’s Speech

In conversations with friends and colleagues, the one thing we have all agreed on is that SA Mayor Julian Castro’s speech should not be all about himself. It should be about President Obama, his policies, and the need to move forward. Of course, Castro’s own story is quite compelling. MYSA.com featured a preview today.

Castro, tapped by President Barack Obama to deliver the keynote address, said he would “talk about what is important for tomorrow” and draw comparisons in policies championed by Obama and those of his Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Romney pledged last week to create 12 million jobs to boost the economy.

Castro said he would accentuate the need to invest in future generations, not just “the wealthy few.”

“I’m going to be talking to the American people as a whole, talking about some of the more important issues. … in this election cycle,” Castro told reporters at the Charlotte Convention Center.

And there was also this.

Republicans also gave Latinos high-profile exposure at their convention in Tampa, Fla., last month, featuring New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Ted Cruz, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee from Texas.

Castro said comparisons between his speech and those by other Latinos were inevitable, and he shrugged off any apparent nervousness from that alone.

“Aside from the personalities,” he said, “it’s the policies.”

Castro said he would not delve into specifics of his speech but that it would touch on domestic issues such as immigration, the roots of his family and opportunities that have led to achievement.

“I have things I want to say,” Castro said.

I particularly like the one about opportunities which have led to achievement. It is a message the rest of America must hear.

Of course, the most important aspect of a speech is its delivery. Given his recent speech at the Texas Democratic Convention, the factors of prime-time TV and the energy of the packed DNC convention hall provide the needed ingredients for an empowering night.

Bad Day for Republicans

There are a couple of items going around that really deal some bad news for the Republicans.

First, the DC Federal Court panel has ruled against the Texas’ discriminatory redistricting maps. The GOPers are sure to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, and it seems the elections will continue since the lawsuit is about the maps as drawn by the Texas Legislature and not the maps we are using now, as drawn by the San Antonio federal court. In a second post, Li says the boundaries for some could be changed for the election–or at least be possible.

On the other hand, it is certainly possible to see a move to adjust those interim maps in the San Antonio court.  For example, CD-23 arguably could be restored to its benchmark configuration fairly easily.  Similar arguments might also be made with respect to HD 117 and 149, which are wholly contained in their respective counties.  But that’s a call that redistricting plaintiffs in San Antonio will have to make.

The opinion regarding CD-23 is particularly telling. The panel felt that Republicans did everything possible to dilute Hispanic voting strength by switching out active Latino voters for non-active Latino voters. The numbers looked the same, but the ability for Latinos to elect a candidate of their choosing was purposely diluted.

Republicans Can’t Catch A Break With Latinos

The old and failed “You’re  conservative like us” plan to lure Latinos to the Republicans seems to be failing–still. As Tea Partiers double-down against issues like a woman’s right to choose, recent polling by Latino Decisions finds that social issues are not even showing up on Latino political radars.

For Latinos the issue that matters most is the economy followed closely by immigration.  And on both of these issues the vast majority of Latinos support a more progressive agenda.  Moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage simply don’t appear on the Latino political radar.  The GOP and Latinos may be simpatico on issues of abortion but this is of little help, social issues are not what sway Latinos in the voting booth.

Now, the Republicans might try to score points on jobs and the economy, but when Romney is attacking on welfare, while defending tax cuts for the wealthy, well, I’d predict that none of that will cause Latinos to switch course. The latest polls show Latinos supporting Obama with a 35 and 40 point spread over Romney.

And if that weren’t enough, the one issue that caused President Obama’s “comeback” with Latinos, Deferred Action, should be ended by Romney and the Republicans, according to Texas’ Ted Cruz.

The key for Obama, then, is turnout. And since Republican leader Boehner is hoping Latinos and African Americans don’t show up to vote, the Latino and African American response is obvious:  SHOW UP!

Last Night’s Gig Was Fun

I want to thank Tarah Taylor and Stephanie Caballero from the Houston Obama For America office for putting on a great Fired Up! Friday Documentary Night. Last night’s film was Undocumented by local film-maker and UH alum Jesse Salmeron.

Undocumented is a documentary which profiled the 2006 organizing and actions against the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437). The bill would have criminalized being an immigrant, anyone who would help immigrants, and a lot of other bad stuff.

What began as protests by students walking out of their schools in response to a bill that would criminalize their parents turned into a huge rally in Downtown Houston and then another rally at the offices of John Cornyn. The actions brought out thousands, and in cities like Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and New York, hundreds of thousands. The response to HR 4437 was so strong, the bill died from a lack of compromise after different versions were passed in each chamber.

2006 turned out to be a great year for Democrats as any gains made by George W. Bush with Latinos were erased. In fact, Democrats re-established majorities in the House and Senate. Unfortunately, Comprehensive Immigration Reform and/or the DREAM Act could still not be passed, and any bipartisanship went out the window with all of the hatred for President Obama.

The film prefaced my remarks about immigration as a “Latino” issue among many other issues that move the Latino electorate. In fact, immigration becomes a hot issue for Latinos when Republicans use it to bash Latinos like a pinata, it seems. A poll by Latino Decisions tracked how immigration rated as an issue Latinos wanted to see action from Washington on, and from August 2011 to January 2012, one saw a 10 point spike. Immigration was in the news much of this time as Republican presidential candidates debated Rick Perry’s Texas DREAM Act, and Republican voters tried to determine just how anti-Latino each could be. If Latinos felt on edge on this issue, it was during this time.

But one could not but agree that immigration is only one issue, despite what the Sunday TV talking heads tell you. It seems when the talk is about Latinos, it gravitates toward immigration. But any polling will tell you that jobs and the economy rank higher, and education and health care rank strongly, too. In other words, capturing the Latino vote is about candidates defending their platform, while also having the ability to defend Latinos when attacked. Ultimately, Latino attitudes toward policy trend toward “Democratic” stances on major issues.

I also talked a bit about some who call for “more investment” in Latino outreach and GOTV. I argued that whether it goes toward more blockwalkers, or mail, or TV, we need to ensure efforts are culturally relevant and not simply bad translations of English language efforts. And I added that perhaps being bold and doing some different things is now in order, providing the example of Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting. and some of the things they have been testing in the community.

Let me tell you, the documentary provided a great (and recent) backdrop of where we’ve been. Unfortunately, the fights remain very similar today to those of the 50s and 60s, and perhaps worse as some attempt to turn back any progress that has been made in civil rights. Meanwhile, there are also other issues impacting the Latino electorate that also affect every other demographic group.

The discussion afterwards was very productive and supportive. The diverse group of activists in the room agreed that only by working together can change that benefits the most truly happen. It gave me a lot of hope which will surely grow when President Obama is re-elected.

SB1070 Architect, ICE Agents Sue Feds Over DACA

The guy who helped create Arizona’s SB1070 and Mitt Romney advisor, Kris Kobach, has rounded up a few ICE agents to file a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano over the Deferred Action policy.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, filed the lawsuit on behalf of 10 ICE employees Thursday in federal court in Dallas. The 22-page filing contends that the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan violates federal law and forces ICE employees to break the law by not arresting certain illegal immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton are named as defendants.

“It places ICE agents in an untenable position where their political superiors are ordering them to violate federal law,” Kobach said. “If they follow federal law, they will be disciplined by their superiors.”

Kobach also helped write up the harshest Republican platform plank on immigration, although Republicans keep saying Romney is being nicer to Latinos.

The defense?

Matt Chandler, a DHS spokesman, said the department uses prosecutorial discretion to focus its efforts on arresting and deporting criminal immigrants, and the newest policy is in line with that effort.

Obviously, beyond attempting to cause fear for families who would benefit from DACA, this will also have political ramifications, but I have no problem saying that Mitt Romney has rubber stamped this bigoted effort until he proves otherwise.

Stay tuned.

Perry: Deferred Action Does Not Affect Texas

A favorite line of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino Republicans is that immigrants are somehow obtaining welfare and other benefits that are supposed to be for “real ‘merkins.” Today, Rick Perry seems to have gotten his messages confused when he announced that the Obama policy change called Deferred Action does not affect Texas.

These guidelines do not change our obligations under federal and Texas law to determine a person’s eligibility for state and local public benefits. Federal law prohibits conferring such benefits to most unlawfully present aliens, absent a state law to the contrary. In Texas, our legislature has passed laws that reflect the policy choices that they believe are right for Texas. The secretary’s directive does not undermine or change our state laws, or any federal laws that apply within the State of Texas. I expect our state agències to continue to comply with and enforce the laws for the protection of our citizens, communities and state treasury and in fulfillment of our constitutional duty as officials within the executive branch.

Well, I’m so glad that the Republican Governor of Texas has reiterated that immigrants are not eligible for benefits in Texas. Maybe his fellow Republicans will stop the lies about Latinos and immigrants being a burden on the state. Of course, I’m sure glad he’s also willing to admit how heartless Republicans are by cutting off immigrant children.

Obviously, he couldn’t pull a “Brewer” on this one, since Texas is way ahead on attempts at anti-immigrant, anti-Latino legislation, like no benefits or driver licenses for immigrants.

Neighborhood Centers Assisting DREAMers on Deferred Action

Neighborhood Centers in Houston is among other agencies who are assisting DREAMers with their Deferred Action process. According to Francis Valdez, immigration attorney at Neighborhood Centers:

“With Deferred Action comes a historic moment for our country and a crucial moment for the 30,000 childhood arrival individuals in Houston who would be eligible and who are currently students in high school, have graduated from high school, serve in the military or enrolled in college in Houston, many of whom have sought guidance at Neighborhood Centers over the years. In the past, Neighborhood Centers has worked diligently to keep families together. Our robust programs and educational seminars have been a model for other organizations. And under this change, we’ll continue to do the same. But because policy changes can often be confusing to those they affect, we’re offering additional guidance.”

Over the summer, Neighborhood Centers hosted several information summits attended by over 2,000 DREAMers and members of the community.

Neighborhood Centers is also one of the few agencies that has built the capacity with other DREAMers organizations nationally under the United We Dream conference to assist DREAMers as they go through the Deferred Action process. Recently, Valdez traveled to Denver to be part of a National Conference and present Neighborhood Centers’ Deferred Action Toolkit, which specifies how to hold community workshops based on Neighborhood Centers’ model.

This Saturday, August 25, DREAMers have an opportunity to attend a workshop on Deferred Action, but an appointment is necessary. Here’s the information:

Deferred Action Program August Workshop Hosted by Neighborhood Centers:
Where: Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center
6500 Rookin St. Houston, TX 77074
When: Saturday, August 25, 2012
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.,
By appointment only

Call 713-273-3707 or email immigration@neighborhood-centers.org

Republicans Cannot Escape the Chains of Truth

As I watch the Mitt and Paul show attempting to hit President Obama and VP Biden because of a pretty hard truth told by the VP, I cannot help but laugh a little, and then get a little annoyed.

When it comes to race politics, it is Republicans who get easily offended when called out on their policies and how they affect minority communities. And that’s what the VP was doing–calling out the Republicans on their idea of giving banks carte blanche to do as they want while keeping their customers held prisoner without much recourse.

Does it make sense now when it is put in this context? Because in this case, it is not far from the truth, whether you’re African American, Latino, and even Anglo. Banks without regulatory oversight are dangerous. It’s that simple.

But leave it to Romney, Ryan and the Republicans to simply point fingers and use the word “hate” against the President, while failing to defend on just how their policies would decimate minority and working class communities. Not just banking regulation, but the Republican idea of ending Medicare, ending the Affordable Care Act, vetoing the DREAM Act, and their lack of a job creation plan.

No, it’s nothing new. And the 3 Rs will utilize this to capture the hearts and minds of independents, but I’m hoping the indies are smart enough to still question how Republican policies would affect their households. Really, they just need to go back to Bush-Cheney to remember.

When it comes to playing race politics, Republicans will always lose the argument. Republican attempts at convincing those in minority communities that entitlements are bad for our communities–when many of us actually survived (or know someone who did) because, as the President says, we are our brothers keeper–have failed. So, now, they have to attack a white guy who tells a truth that leaders in minority communities have said for decades.

To borrow from Ann Romney, “You people” can’t handle the truth!

August 24: Fired Up! Friday Documentary and Discussion (Latinos For Obama)

Here’s a must-attend event for you that is coming up, thanks to the good folks at Obama For America’s Houston HQ. I’m proud to participate as the guest speaker, so, please attend, participate in the discussion, and enjoy a great documentary.

Join us for this special Latinos for Obama edition of Fired Up! Friday D&D! There are approximately 12 million people living in this country without documents. Undocumented is a documentary that explores the human element of immigration as well as both sides of the debate.

There will be a SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER …Dont miss it!

[Stace Medellin of DosCentavos.net]

In lieu of the President’s executive act to give relief to children who have been brought here by their parents at a young age, we thought this documentary would be a great tool to understanding this phenomena.

So bring yourself + a friend, there will be snacks and refreshments

Time:
Friday, August 24, 2012 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Host:
Tarah Taylor
Location:
OFA Houston Headquarters (Houston, TX)

4400 Almeda
Houston, TX 77004