Category Archives: National Democrats

Tuesday Was Immigration Day in Texas

At least that’s the image we were given.

First, the Texas House railroaded through the Arizona-like, yet harsher, House Bill 12, which allows local law enforcement to go on the hunt for Hispanic Texans who might be thought of as “illegal.” Then, President Obama visited El Paso to announce an all-new effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. Soon after the visit, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin announced that he was going to re-submit the DREAM Act for consideration in a very changed legislative atmosphere in Washington, DC.

For the rest, click here.

TDP Files Suit Against Leo Vasquez

Leo Vasquez’s showboating in front of his Teabagger friends and working with a right-wing voter suppression group has earned him a lawsuit for violating a settlement with the Texas Democratic Party for his office’s past shenanigans.

Today, the Texas Democratic Party filed suit infederal court against Leo Vasquez, in his capacity as Voter Registrar in the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office. TDP Chairman Boyd Richie issued the following statement:

“In 2008, the Texas Democratic Party was forced to take legal action in Federal Court to protect Harris County voters from the inappropriate, partisan actions of former Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt, whose office rejected tens of thousands of legitimate voter registration applications.

“When Leo Vasquez took office following Bettencourt’s sudden resignation after the 2008 election, he defended his predecessor’s actions.  However, when the Texas Democratic Party presented the Court evidence of the serious misdeeds in the Harris County voter registration office, Vasquez ultimately agreed to a settlement, providing hope that those inappropriate practices had come to an end.

“Unfortunately, we believe Leo Vasquez violated the terms of our agreement last week, based on statements and information he distributed at a press conference that resembled a political pep rally. At that event, Vasquez made reckless accusations against a non-partisan organization based on a “review” of voter registration applications conducted by a group called “True the Vote.” In order to conduct such a review, Vasquez apparently provided the group access to the same applications he refused to provide the Texas Democratic Party last year, when he argued in Federal Court that such documents contained confidential information such as date of birth.

All Harris County residents should be deeply disturbed by how easily this office disregards election law and federal court orders and by how casually they distribute voters’ confidential information.  Just last year, well-documented reports revealed that deputy voter registrar Ed Johnson was selling driver’s license information to Republican candidates as part of an illicit side-business with Republican state representative Dwayne Bohac [1] [2].

“Given Mr. Vasquez’ actions last week, we have been forced to take legal action to make sure his office does not repeat the same kind of practices that denied almost 70,000 Harris County citizens the right to register and vote in 2008.”


[1] Associate registrar moonlights by selling voter data

Houston Chronicle 6/10/2009

[2] Where’d that driver’s license data come from? Off the Kuff 7/31/2009

FBI to Riddle: YOU LIE!

Well, not in so many words, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (that’s the FBI) has knocked down the Republican-Riddle-Gohmert-created idea that immigrants were coming to the U.S., giving birth, returning home with the baby, training it to be a terrorist, and sending said baby back to the U.S. for terror purposes.

Anderson Cooper closed the book on the terror baby assertion, but not necessarily on how insane the Republican Party has become. He also had Tom Fuentes, a former FBI agent, who had much to say–including a joke that the FBI may be creating a NO PRE-SCHOOL LIST.  Unfortunately, Riddle has one of her own and it includes anyone with a Spanish surname. Here’s the vid:

Fuentes does question how all of a sudden, there are so many FBI agents lurking in the halls of Congress and our State House.  Let’s be honest…the Republicans, Riddle and Gohmert are liars, they are vindictive, and anything they create is based on hate–I even question if it’s even for political purposes, instead for how they really feel about anyone different.

If ever the Democrats had material to show how crazy the Republicans are, this is it.

Riddle Can’t Back Up Her Lies

So, there was a debate on Anderson Cooper last night between State Rep. Rafael Anchia and conspiracy-theorist Debbie Riddle.

Riddle seems to be falling apart as she describes the anti-immigrant lies she spouts and I have to hand it to Anderson–he nailed her by demanding facts that she just couldn’t provide. Republicans rely on concocted data–mostly from “think tanks” tied to white supremacy organizations–and attempt to spread fear.

Although she may have earned a few votes from her “Border Watch” friends in Spring, her demeanor and mean-spirited commentary surely woke up Latinos and independents who finally realized what the Republican Party is all about–hate.

Operation Wetback All Over Again

The Obama Administration continued the spread of the “Secure Communities,” program now available in most border counties in the U.S. This flawed and failed program which is said to be targeting “criminal aliens” continues to prove itself ineffective and a source of community and family separation and economic turmoil.  In fact, this blogger gets the feeling that it is “Operation Wetback” all over again.

Operation Wetback was a 1954 operation by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to remove about one millionillegal immigrants from the southwestern United States, focusing on Mexican nationals[1].

Back then, they didn’t use “criminal” status, it was just a fear-ladened series of sweeps in Latino communities in which citizen and not were thrown out of the country. Then again, given the statistics coming from ICE, there isn’t much “criminal alien” deportation going on, either.

The effort began in California and Arizona, and coordinated 1075 Border Patrol agents, along with state and local police agencies, to mount an aggressive crackdown. Tactics employed included going as far as systematic police sweeps of Mexican-American neighborhoods, and random stops and ID checks of “Mexican-looking” people in a region with many Native Americans and native Hispanics. In some cases, illegal immigrants were deported along with their American-born minor dependent children.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Harris County Sheriff’s Department has boasted its 20,000 hand-overs to ICE, but has failed to specify the number of “Level 1” offenders (the most dangerous) it has detained. Instead, they put some jail lieutenant on TV using phrases like, “…you don’t come into MY country…” and boasting about his love of causing deporations. It’s quite shameful, actually.

In Austin, Travis County, Texas, 82% of hand-overs are considered non-criminals.

And let’s remember here, being undocumented is not a crime, it is a violation of a federal civil statute, kind of like those damn Red Light Cameras and parking tickets are violations of local statute. Yet, this country has the largest police force (20,000) for the purpose of seeking, detaining, and deporting people who simply do not have a piece of paper. Even so, it must use local cops to do their job, which detracts from actual crime-fighting and community safety.

Unfortunately, heroic cities, such as San Francisco, who have refused to implement this program will be forced by the Obama administration to implement “Secure Communities” by 2013.

“ICE essentially throws a gill net over the concept of immigration reform. It sweeps up all the little people along with what they say is their intention, which is to deport serious and violent criminals,” said San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, whose city is having trouble getting out of the program. He said people picked up on traffic violations, whose charges are later dropped, still get deported.

From a political standpoint, Democratic administrations are in charge. Although we see Debbie Riddle’s freak-out on Anderson last night, we still remember who exactly is in charge.

As someone who enjoys GOTV work, it just makes the job of selling Democrats that much tougher.

Thoughts on Viernes…08062010

Awesome Kick-Off for Houston Votes

I attended the kick-off happy hour for Houston Votes yesterday and it was quite a smash. A crowd of volunteers and supporters helped kick-off Houston Votes efforts toward registering 100,000 voters in Harris County. As I mentioned previously, there are around 600,000 unregistered, yet eligible, voters in Harris County and Houston Votes along with several other non-profit partner groups have put it upon themselves to improve civic engagement and participation at the ballot box.

Congratulations to Fred Lewis and Melody Patelis and the gang on a fine event. And the best of wishes to Texans Together ED Maureen Haver. Coby has more on HV and TT.

The Interviews Begin @ Kuff

The best service available to voters has to be Off The Kuff’s candidate interviews for the general election. Charles is busier than ever. If someone needs solid information straight out of a candidate’s mouth, then Kuff is your source.

Raulito Navaira Has a Show?

Yes, that’s right, Emilio’s brother Raul, who started a solo career while his brother recuperated  after suffering serious injuries in a Houston accident, is now a talk-show host.  Beginning August 14, the Raulito Show debuts featuring all sorts of Tejano and Latino music stars, one-liners, jokes, and even a cooking segment called Abuelita’s Kitchen.

Why didn’t I think of doing something like this? No, I chose a blog, instead.

I think the cooking segment stands to be his biggest challenge.

“I can do this segment all day long,” Navaira joked as he dipped a potato chip into a bowl of pico de gallo during a second take.

Good luck to Raulito–let’s get the first 13 shows out of the way.

Dan Patrick Tells Hispanics What We Should Be Doing?

And our own State Senator Mario Gallegos puts his foot down.

Arguments Begin in USA vs AZ; GOP Loses Bid to Block Lawsuit

As arguments begin today before Judge Shelton in Arizona against the racial profiling law, a last effort by Senate Republicans to block the lawsuit failed, thanks to the Democratic majority and a couple of Republicans.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday turned back a move by Republicans to block the Justice Department from pursuing its lawsuit seeking to overturn Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

The bid by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint to nix the lawsuit came out on the losing end of a 55-43 vote. Five Democrats voted to block the lawsuit while two Republicans voted against the measure.

Unfortunately, five Democrats were part of the mix wanting to block the lawsuit–the five that could get us to the Magic Number of 60 to pass CIR–or at least the DREAM Act.  I call them the problem children.  Still, given that the DREAM Act could have some bi-partisan appeal, we could lose those five, but not many more.

And just because we like to name names.

Democrats voting to block the lawsuit were: Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana; Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas; and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Republicans Mike Johann of Nebraska and George Voinovich of Ohio broke with their party in voting against the amendment.

And while we fight in court, Janet Brewer’s legal mouthpiece had this to say to the judge.

“In Arizona we have a tremendous Hispanic heritage. To think that everybody that’s Hispanic is going to be stopped and questioned … defies reality,” Bouma said. “All this hypothetical that we’re going to go out and arrest everybody that’s Hispanic, look around. That’s impossible.”

Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Stop SB1070! – No SB1070 in Texas!

Correction: Senator Reid Punts DREAM to CIR Advocates

Perhaps it is a positive development, or perhaps it is a development that will have DREAM Act advocates and CIR-only advocate going for each others’ throats, but a Roll Call article today tells us that Majority Leader Harry Reid has made it clear than when CIR advocates advise him that comprehensive immigration reform is dead for the year, that he would push the DREAM Act as a stand-alone initiative.

In an interview with La Opinion, the Nevada Democrat said he is largely leaving it up to reform advocates to tell him when a comprehensive bill is no longer viable and that the Senate should instead move to the narrower DREAM Act.

After backers of a comprehensive bill say “that they feel we cannot get [comprehensive immigration reform] done this year – and the reason why we cannot do it, it’s because we don’t have a single Republican -then I would like to figure out when can we do the DREAM Act. I would like to do it before the elections,” Reid told La Opinion.

So, the ball is punted to the CIR advocates even though the ones carrying the weight right now are the DREAM Act activists.  Several organizations, including League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have already shown their support for the DREAM Act.  According to reports on the ground, CIR advocacy group Reform Immigration For America, stated their support for the DREAM Act in DC this week.

Given that Senator Reid has made this statement, that we are still within a window of opportunity to perhaps pass DREAM as part of the Defense Authorization act, and that the Latino electorate is waiting for some sort of action as the elections near that would energize them, the national groups should make this happen.

It is obvious that the DREAM Act actions of this week have been effective. It is time to make it happen.

Overreaction Tuesday on Obama’s Watch

Yes, even as the Obama Administration’s USDA (especially Tom Vilsack) overreacted by firing Ms. Sherrod for 38 seconds of video put up by a right-wing website, there was another overreaction during the day.

Did you know that 21 DREAMers were arrested for protesting at Hart Senate Office Building yesterday?

These are students without documentation who were willing to go as far as possible to send a message to Washington, DC. So, an arrest would be a huge risk, whether they are detained by ICE after the arrest, or whether the arrest affects any future possibility of a change in their residency status. But the message was obviously received.

The Hill covered the arrests and reaction on Capitol Hill.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), author of the DREAM Act, addressed the larger group, which was staging a mock graduation ceremony.

Reached for comment following the arrests, a Durbin spokesman said, “Today’s demonstrations by some DREAM Act supporters … crossed the line from passionate advocacy to inappropriate behavior. The tide of public opinion has long been on the side of the DREAM Act — it has broad bipartisan support in Congress and poll after poll shows that people of all political persuasion believe in its goals. Sen. Durbin believes that we will win this fight on the merits, not through public demonstrations or publicity stunts.”

I agree with LatinaLista.

Unfortunately, that Washington spokesperson doesn’t get it — a sign that he probably isn’t alone. It’s precisely these kinds of “publicity stunts” that are pushing the issue like it’s never been pushed before. Most agree that if there is a fight to be won when it comes to undocumented immigrants, it will be with the DREAM Act. But, the question everyone wants to know is — When?

Very true. The DREAM Act students, frustrated, have been forced to wait due to Capitol Hill politics. Whether it is Republicans who have united against any Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or Democrats and Immigration Reform groups who only want CIR and not a stand-alone DREAM Act, these kids are caught in the middle of a political debate.  What they seem to forget (even I did at one point) is that we’re dealing with a very human issue–we’re dealing with lives here.

We know how far the Republicans are willing to go when it comes to lives. Blocking health care (even going as far as excluding immigrants), blocking unemployment benefits, we should hardly be surprised when they play politics with immigration, or worse, make it the political hot potato that places fear into the Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration continues overreacting to just about anything that makes them look pro-Human and pro-Civil Rights.

From reports on the ground (Thanks Guillermo), we’re hearing most of the students have been released by Capitol Police. A few more to go.

GOP: Obama Heads for Impeachment Because of Immigration

On Wednesday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) was on Lou Dobbs’ radio show and went a step further. He agreed with Dobbs’ statement that President Obama is “awfully close” to violating his “oath to protect the Constitution of the United States” by not completely securing the border …

Considering that President Obama deported more immigrants in his first year in office (and the family separations continue), it seems the administration would have a defense to any impeachment based on actual numbers, rather than the fear the GOP puts out on immigration and Latinos.

Perhaps there’s a bigger story here:  Having President Obama admit to targeting more Latinos than ever could balance out how much the Latino electorate is avoiding the GOP.  Of course, there’s a big difference between doing a job and the vitriol that is spewed by the Republicans toward Latinos.

Frankly, we don’t like the numbers, but calling our kids “anchor babies” and promoting racial profiling laws that put an entire group of people under watch based on their color (and their shoes and clothing) is worse.  At least when dealing with Latino voters, that is.