Category Archives: Immigration

2012 – Latinos Bank Some Political Capital

For all intents and purposes, it would seem that 2012 was a bit more than just OK for a lib-lab like myself. It provided more hope–at least more ganas to fight–for public policies beneficial to Latinos. And because the policies would benefit Latinos, they would benefit most everyone else–even the 1%. Of course, I speak in a national sense, since Texas Latinos have more of a fight against the Tea Party’s scorched earth agenda in the Texas Legislature.

President Obama’s re-election, along with the election and re-election of good Democrats in various battlegrounds, has put into play the importance of not only the Latino vote, but the Latino community as a whole. One cannot ignore that Latinos represented 1 in every 10 votes in 2012. If anything, Latinos proved something else:  That ours is a progressive agenda that takes into account all Americans. But instead of fighting for mere existence in American political society, Latinos have now carved themselves a niche in the national conversation, and it should not be only on immigration reform.

Some would argue that we’ve had that niche for a long time, pointing to anecdotal “Latino” political appointments and all other types of window dressing. But that is not enough. As I not-so-jokingly tell people, “It’s about policy, pendejos!”

So, if Latinos truly feel that we made a difference in the 2012 elections, then we must go beyond Election Day and push forth the agenda the we have supported with our vote. And if those we elected to push forth that agenda on our behalf falter in their support, then we must do what we must and call them out, correct them, or vote them out. That’s all part of our rights as voters. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting a return on our investment as voters, no matter who may be the incumbent, no matter who is in charge of our neighborhood political machines.

As President Obama put forth in his interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Year One of Term Two. Frankly, I am glad he said this after all of the posturing by both sides of the gun debate after the tragedy in Newtown. Although I fall on the side of President Obama and Vice President Biden on the debate, the bottom line is that both were elected to put forth public policies that save and bolster our economy, add to the middle class, expand health care, fully fund education, and enact comprehensive immigration reform, among other policies. The voters responded to long-term challenges that have been hounding working and middle class families since Bush-2 was in office. On November 6, President Obama was provided with the political capital to respond to these issues, but he cannot do it alone, either.

Should gun reform be a part of this? Sure. But it should not take precedence over those issues on which many invested their community capital–as activists and as voters.

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, jobs and the economy are an ongoing priority, and Latinos wholeheartedly agree. Investing in infrastructure and education is also a top priority for Latinos. Expanding access to health care, too. The one issue that encompasses all of these is comprehensive immigration reform, and so too will it be a top priority. And the polls and the election outcome show that Latinos and the majority of Americans agree. But the battle did not end on Election Day, as the fiscal cliff rhetoric tells us. The people, and in this case, Latinos, must demand these policies be enacted.

Back in 2006, when Democrats won back the majority of seats in Congress, I spent no time in declaring that it happened because of Latinos responding to Republican craziness on the immigration issue. When candidate-Obama won, and the numbers showed that the margins of victory in various battleground states could be credited to the Latino vote, I spent no time in declaring that Latinos should expect some political payback–mostly in the form of comprehensive immigration reform and maybe some good political appointments. In 2010, when Harry Reid defeated a well-funded Tea party challenge by speaking the truth on immigration reform, rather than taking the “blue dog” approach of making Latinos (and not just immigrants) the example, it seemed to me that 2012 had the potential to be special. But our elected leaders need to realize that our importance goes beyond the ballot box. Our importance must be exhibited in the process of creating public policy, and that means Latinos taking responsibility by joining and steering the debate.

It seems that since at least 2006, we’ve been banking some political capital. Yes, we’ve voted in elections past, but did we ever have real potential to effect meaningful and positive public policies? Or a better question, did both sides of the political argument ever have the realization that we matter in the overall conversation? To me, it is obvious. No, on both counts.

Let’s face it, when Republicans are in power, the only policies having anything to do with Latinos have been negative–Voter ID, cuts in public education, sanctuary cities laws, etc. Democrats, although defending on most aspects of the progressive agenda Latinos seem to support, failed on comprehensive immigration reform, which I’ve argued encompasses all other issues in one way or another, and was the basis of most of the negativity coming from Republicans.

But in 2012, it seems to me that we have a political savings account in which we’ve saved up our well-earned political pennies to expend on a positive political agenda. And it’s time we do. Not only the voters, but any progressive Latino elected official, too. The Latino electeds should not just wait to be told that it’s their turn, and neither should the Latino electorate wait. Whatever the outcome, it is the fight that matters and empowers us for the future.

Now, it may seem to any right-wing Republican or to any white liberal who thinks he/she is doing Latinos a favor, that I’m being too Latino-centric. Well, I started this blog because no one was mentioning Latinos in the progressive conversation, unless it was to chastise our voter turnout on the day after election day. So, let’s toss the hurt feelings aside and begin an inclusive progressive movement. Don’t try to do Latinos any favors with pats on the head, but do some listening, instead.

In 2012, Latinos sent a message and have become part of the conversation–even though most of the TV talking heads on Sunday morning aren’t Latinos, but that’s a whole other battle. But it is up to the Latino electorate (and not just those individual Latinos on end-of-year “Top 10” lists) to continue pushing beyond Election Day to ensure our elected officials create public policy that is beneficial to all.

Let’s get to work.

Update:  LA Times seems to be just as worried about immigration reform being overshadowed by the gun fight. I’m sure Republicans would breathe a sigh a relief.

Update:  Think Progress tells us that President Obama, much like he mentioned on Meet the Press, is moving forward with immigration reform.

The Obama administration’s “social media blitz” will start in January and is expected “to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.” Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers from both parties are already holding initial meetings to iron out the details of the proposal and Obama will to push for a broad bill.

DREAM Beanies for the Holidays

So, you’re freakin’ out that you forgot to buy a few gifts for friends or family members? Well, my friend and DREAMer Jose Luis Zelaya, a grad student at Aggieland U., tells us how he went from homelessness to reaching a professional goal of a graduate degree by crocheting all sorts of cool stuff.

Howdy! In this video I share how I went from being homeless to a graduate student with the help and support from a teacher. I am now pursuing a Masters in Education seeking to make a difference in the lives of my students. In order to pay for College I crochet beanies, scarves, etc. I ask you to please help me and support me by buying beanies and other crafts. Please share this video and tell your family and friends about it. I know everything is possible. CROCHETING MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE.

Watch the video, fall in love with a great cause, and then place your order here.

FYI – For some of my Harris County Dem friends, Jose Luis was a speaker at 2012’s Johnson Rayburn Richards dinner, so you all need to buy something, too!

HOPE Announces Lege Agenda

Hispanics Organized for Political Education (HOPE), the former “political arm” of Texas LULAC has re-organized and announced its legislative agenda for the 2013 Texas legislative session. It is quite comprehensive and divided into four parts.

Plan of Action
Latinos in Texas rank the following 7 issues in order of importance as the most relevant to our community’s agenda:
1. Education
2. Immigration/Racial Profiling
3. Political Access/Redistricting
4. Health Care
5. Business/Workforce
6. State Budgetary shortfall
7. Housing

Catching my eye because of its importance is their plank on education.

HOPE calls on the Texas 83rd Legislature to reinstatement school-funding using district property wealth for allocation to the 2009, level of funding that also took into account the annual increased enrollment of students.

Quality Education for English Language Learners (ELLs)
Reform and improve education by supporting reforms for effective secondary educational programs that serve English Language Learners including stronger accountability standards, curricular reforms at the secondary level, and addressing qualified teacher shortages through recruitment and retention programs. These reforms will result in closing the achievement gaps and reducing the drop-outs.

Drop-Outs

1. Reform and improve education by identifying a menu of best practices that are research based to address dropouts;
2. Introduce legislation that will require institutions to include in their graduation degree plan developed courses that focus on addressing potential dropout students and dropouts as part of their teacher certification programs;
3. Support legislation that will require institutions that grant teacher certification and who are also identified as an HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) to develop leadership programs for minorities in the field of education;
4. Support legislation that will create a statewide Blue Ribbon Committee made up of those institutions of higher learning that are identified as HIS to create  a Thinktank to be centered at Texas State University in San Marcos to research, monitor, and propose solutions to student dropouts;
5. Close all loopholes in the state’s leaver code system so that districts and campuses cannot arbitrarily mask student dropout numbers;
6. Monitor the extent to which students are being taken off of the recommended high school program and placed in the Minimum track that leaves them ineligible for state financial aid (i.e., TEXAS Grant) and automatic admissions under the Top Ten Percent Policy.

Equitable School Finance System

Invest in the economic future of Texas by supporting a return to formula-based funding that maintains a school finance system that allows schools to access equal revenue at a similar tax effort and properly funds special needs students.

Universal Access to Schools

Oppose all efforts to deny access to education and ensure access to parents and children living in Texas to educational services regardless of immigration status.

High-stakes Testing

Put a stop to the over-reliance on a single test-based indicator when assessing students. Continuing to focus on student test performance does not lead to a deeper or critical understanding of the curriculum. Rather, it obstructs students’ access to quality learning time and diverts precious dollars and resources (such as teacher and staff time) to testing companies. The misuses of testing are both unethical and unsupported by research, and also disproportionately impact poor, minority, and English learning students, as well as those student receiving special education services.

Holistic Assessment

Support the use of multiple measures such as classroom work, homework, extracurricular involvement, teacher evaluation, parent evaluation, and test scores as a means for holistically assessing a student’s overall academic performance. Oppose policies that solely rely of a single test score to determine grade promotion or retention decisions, deny students a high school diploma, deny access to college or financial aid, or contaminate students’ course GPAs.

College Readiness Preparation

1. Support students’ access and successful completion of the 4×4, college readiness curriculum;
2. Oppose efforts to track students into nonrigorous, vocational or career and technology courses;
3. Support rigorous career and technology education courses that are taught by certified teachers, that supplement (rather than supplant) students’  completion of college ready curricula, and lead to workbased certification and college credit.4. Support supplemental programs and partnerships that provide students resources and access to institutions of higher education;

5. Require that all students have fully certified, quality teachers who have theacademic and social competencies to ensure that all students reach their optimal potential.

Affordable Tuition Rates in Higher Education

1. Oppose any measure that restricts or prohibits minority access to needed financial aid and Texas grants that should be fully restored;
2. Support affordable access to higher education by restoring the state regulation of tuition;
3. Oppose any measure that further restricts Texas’ high school graduates access to instate tuition.

Top 10%

Oppose any legislation that would reduce, eliminate or make exceptions to the top 10% rule.

DREAM Act

Oppose any legislation that would challenge students’ access to higher education by modifying or eliminating House Bill 1403.

Bullying

Support enhanced anti-bullying legislation that will mandate that the education administration code include a directive to identify a point of contact for bullying.

Special Education

Support legislation mandating that the parents of special education students who are also limited English proficiency (LEP), be provided all documentation in their native language during the ARD and the development of the student’s IEP.

State Board of Education Reform

Reform the State Board of Education (SBOE) to ensure that the adopted and future TEKS curriculum standards are accurate, comprehensive, in compliance with legislative intent and responsive to community input. Support efforts to include top university experts in the decision making process.

Click on the link to read the entire document; however, be warned–it is pretty progressive and will earn some right-wing opposition. With the Dewhurst-Patrick-Republican ideas of expanding charter schools and school privatization, the battle lines have definitely been drawn between Latinos and Republicans.

Thanks to my good friend, Joe Cardenas, III, for sending this to me and for chairing such an important group of leaders.

Immigration Policy Center: 287(g) Flawed and Obsolete

The Immigration Policy Center released a report on the dreaded 287(g) program  which allows local law enforcement to act like federal immigration agents. They basically call it what DosCentavos has been calling it since its inception:  Flawed. And today, IPC stated that the practices used in running the program are obsolete. This should send a message to law enforcement agencies, such as Harris County Sheriff’s Department.

Here are a few highlights of the report:

287(g) Agreements Have Resulted in Widespread Racial Profiling

A report by Justice Strategies found that 87% of the jurisdictions with 287(g) agreements had a rate of Latino population growth higher than the national average.

287(g) Agreements Drain Local Coffers

Aside from training deputized officers on the enforcement of federal immigration law, ICE does not pay for any costs associated with implementation of the program, including overtime and financial liability arising from civil rights violations.

287(g) Partnerships Net Few Violent Criminals

[When DosCentavos debated HCSO’s communications guy back in 2010 on 287(g) at a Young Dems meeting, he wasn’t able to give any real figures as to detentions of violent criminals; instead, they have boasted big numbers on all detentions. An ICE report and other reports stated that the majority of immigrants detained using 287(g) were low-grade offenders whose crimes usually do not net a deportation. This report mentions a UNC report which gives a similar outcome in North Carolina.]

The report from the University of North Carolina found that 287(g) agreements in the state were primarily used to target offenders who posed no threat to public safety or individuals with no criminal record. For example, 33% of individuals detained through the 287(g) program were charged with traffic violations, a figure that rose to 41% in Alamance County and 57% in Gaston County.

287(g) Agreements Threaten Community Safety and Hinder Community Policing

  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the nation’s premier law enforcement association, has stated that “local police agencies depend on the cooperation of immigrants, legal and illegal, in solving all sorts of crimes and in the maintenance of public order. Without assurances that they will not be subject to an immigration investigation and possible deportation, many immigrants with critical information would not come forward, even when heinous crimes are committed against them or their families.”
  • The Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), a group of police chiefs from the 64 largest police departments in the United States and Canada, similarly has written: “without assurances that contact with the police would not result in purely civil immigration enforcement action, the hard won trust, communication and cooperation from the immigrant community would disappear.”

287(g) Agreements Lack Sufficient Federal Oversight

  • Although federal law mandates that 287(g) officers be subject to the direction and supervision of federal officials, numerous investigations have found federal oversight to be insufficient and lax. A March 2010 report by the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that ICE and its local law enforcement partners had not complied with the terms of their 287(g) agreements; that the standards by which deputized officers are evaluated contradicted the stated objectives of the 287(g) program; that the program was poorly supervised by ICE; and that additional oversight was necessary.
  • A January 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that ICE has failed to articulate the 287(g) program’s objectives or how local partners are to use their 287(g) authority. While ICE officials have stated that the purpose of the program is to address serious crime, such as narcotics smuggling, ICE has never documented this objective or provided statistics to validate it. As a result, local police have used their 287(g) authority to detain immigrants for traffic violations and other minor crimes.

287(g) Agreements are Obsolete

  • With the Secure Communities program in effect in virtually all U.S. jurisdictions, many have argued that 287(g) agreements no longer serve any plausible law enforcement benefit. Under the Secure Communities program, fingerprints of all state and local arrestees are routed to ICE officials, who can themselves determine whether to initiate removal proceedings. While Secure Communities also jeopardizes community policing and public safety, and fails to solve the problem of racial profiling by state and local police, all immigration enforcement decisions under Secure Communities are made by federal authorities.
  • In its budget justification for fiscal 2013, DHS sought $17 million less in funding for the 287(g) program, and said that in light of the expansion of Secure Communities, “it will no longer be necessary to maintain the more costly and less effective 287(g) program.”

The local sheriff has testified in favor of re-funding 287(g), but the bottom line is that another bad program (Secure Communities) has the same goals. Still flawed, though, it doesn’t make sense to fund two flawed programs. At the very least, 287(g) needs to be ended, especially as moves are made toward a sensible immigration policy in Washington.

Are We Obamatinos Now?

According to Latino Decisions, 75% of Latinos voted for Obama, breaking a previous high-point. In Texas, Latinos are said to have given President Obama 70% support.

3/4 of Latino voters thought Romney didn’t care for Latinos or was hostile toward Latinos. Obama gave Latinos a positive vibe at a 66% rate. Romney’s immigration stances led Latinos to move toward Obama, and his move on Deferred Action gave Latinos more enthusiasm for Obama.

Ultimately, anti-Latino forces have Latinos to blame for Obama’s re-election.

The Latino vote share numbers across key states were even more pronounced, with Latinos exceeding the national average of 75% in most of the battleground states, including a remarkable 87% in Colorado and 80% in Nevada. The 66% of Latinos who voted for Obama in Virginia, 58% in Florida, and 82% in Ohio were also critical to the overall outcome of the race. At the end of the day, we estimate that the Latino vote led to a net margin gain for President Obama of +5.4%, and a +2.3% bump in the national popular vote. Consequently, if Latinos had split their vote evenly (50/50) in this election, President Obama would have lost the national popular vote. For the first time in American history, the Latino electorate has a legitimate claim of being nationally decisive!

So, there!

For President Obama, though, the promise of a 1st term CIR now becomes a priority in term 2. One dislikes thinking this way, but as nice as the numbers looked nationally, Democrats and Republicans really do only have this window of opportunity to get CIR done before the 2014 midterms.  Democrats need to grow a backbone and push CIR and defend wholeheartedly, while Republicans need to get off this Obama-hate and help pass a humane, sensible reform–without hateful racially-tinged debate, and without politically-driven excuses.

And you all do know that this is on top of the rest of the jobs agenda.

To answer the question, no, we are not Obamatinos. But we did vote for the guy we had more confidence in to move an agenda that is good for Latinos, especially if it includes CIR. The Republicans, obviously helped, and not just Romney.

I’m looking forward to a better Texas breakdown, particularly here in Harris County, if at all possible. Texas had some significant wins in South Texas, especially the election of Pete Gallego in CD-23. According to the Texas Democratic Party, Dems gained 7 seats in the Texas House and 3 in our Congressional delegation. So, the ball moved forward with great hopes of reaching the goal line sooner than later.

With a right-winger like Ted Cruz as the GOP poster-Latino, they stand to lose more ground by 2014 (when Cornyn’s seat is up).

Politifacting Politi-Fact on Romney’s Anti-Immigrant Positions

Politi-Fact has given a defense of Mitt Romney’s assertion that SB1070–the legalized Latino profiling law–is a model for the nation. They agree with Romney that he was only talking about E-Verify in a statement made during a Republican Primary debate.

What they fail to mention is that the question that was asked by John King at the Republican debate in which Romney put his foot in his mouth was about self-deportation, and Romney avoided even talking about self-deportation. Yes, he skirted the question to talk about E-verify, which even President Obama believes is a  flawed program.

What will be the impact of such a dramatic expansion of E-Verify on businesses, workers, and taxpayers?  According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress:

  • An estimated 770,000 American workers could lose job offers due to E-Verify’s error-prone databases
  • The mandate would cost small business an estimated $2.6 billion
  • Based on a similar bill scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office in 2007, $17 billion in tax revenue would be lost over 10 years as more jobs move into the underground economy.

Remarkably, these costs would be in exchange for a system that identifies unauthorized workers only 46% of the time.

However Politifact attempts to play President Obama’s statement, they must also look at Romney’s vocal opposition to a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, his opposition to the DREAM Act, his opposition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and the fact that his top immigration advisor, Kris Kobach, is the author of SB1070. In fact, Kobach is the lead attorney in a lawsuit to do away with DACA.

The folks at politifact are being a bit disingenuous on this one. Simply “facting” a single statement is not enough when the immigration issue is one that is broad and complicated. At the debate and throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has made it clear that he doesn’t support the kind of “comprehensive” reform that the pro-migrant community supports–even with any perceived flip-flops on the issue.

Buen Ejemplo – Barack Obama En Spanish

President Barack Obama’s new ad about DREAMers is actually pretty good. The Spanish isn’t forced and he looks comfortable. I like it. And it’s a good message, rather than just your usual “I like-o you people-o mucho” that a Mitt-0 Romney(dez) might give you.

Romney Changes Mind – He Will End DACA

Mitt has clarified himself on the whole DACA thing. I figured he would because his original statement left a huge opening. According to the Boston Globe, he is now saying:

“Responding to a Globe request to clarify Romney’s statement to the Denver Post, Romney’s campaign said he would honor deportation exemptions issued by the Obama administration before his inauguration but would not grant new ones after taking office.”

He’s trying to talk like he’s already been elected.

His original comment (emphasis mine):

“The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased.”

So, there you go. Mitt Romney has actually said nothing about this issue. He’s trying to hedge his bets, I guess. Since only 29 applications have been approved, thus far, and tens of thousands more seem to be waiting until Obama is re-elected, looks like Mitt really is telling us how he really feels about DREAMers.

How it progressed to this:

#2: Has Anyone Asked Mitt About Kobach’s DACA Lawsuit?

#1:  DACA Support Should Have Been No-Brainer For Romney

Has Anyone Asked Mitt About Kobach’s DACA Lawsuit?

It’s funny how the mainstream media (and some migrant “advocates”) take Mitt Romney’s change in stance and run with it without questioning anything, as I did a while ago. Has anyone bothered asking him how he feels about his top immigration advisor’s DACA lawsuit? Or how he feels about a racist organization funding said lawsuit?

Arizona immigration law author and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing 10 immigration agents in a lawsuit filed Thursday against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, for policies they say prevent them from doing their job of defending the Constitution.

[…]

Numbers USA, a group that advocates for reduction of immigration, is funding the lawsuit on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents opposed to current policy. The suit goes after two key Obama policies on immigration:prosecutorial discretion to focus on criminals and repeat offenders, as well as deferred action for undocumented young people.

A simpler question:  How can Mitt Romney be taken seriously?

DACA Support Should Have Been No-Brainer For Romney

Romney had an opportunity to support DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from Day 1 and failed. I wondered why supporting the continuation of DACA wasn’t a no-brainer for Romney and his people. DACA was everything Romney has talked about in his immigration platform:  No citizenship, no benefits, no health care, and a labor force.

So, why did he wait so long to support DACA?

And what does he mean by “full immigration reform plan”? Romney has not given details, other than wanting the opportunity to take advantage a labor force without the opportunity for citizenship or basic rights.

In other words, Romney is basically supporting what the President has already done. The difference will be in immigration reform plans. We know President Obama supports a path to citizenship. What does Romney support?

#2 in the series:  Has Anyone Asked Mitt About Kobach’s DACA Lawsuit?

#3 in the series:  Romney Changes Mind – He Will End DACA