Category Archives: Para La Gente

The Bipartisan Agreement on Immigration Framework

Looks like the Senate will have some sort of immigration framework to begin work on immigration reform. Again, this is only a framework, and not actual legislation. Once it is written up, it will go through a painful committee process which will be contentious, unless the Republicans in the mix are able to control their own colleague’s vitriol. Anyway, the framework goes a little like this.

As those security measures take effect, the proposal says, illegal immigrants would be forced to register with the government, undergo a background check, and pay a fine and back taxes so they can obtain a legal status on a probationary basis. That would allow them to live and work legally in the United States, unless they have committed serious crimes, which could subject them to deportation. Those who have obtained probationary legal status would not be allowed to access federal benefits.

After the enforcement measures take effect, those who have obtained their probationary legal status would be required to undergo a series of requirements — including learning English and civics and undergoing further background checks — before being able to obtain permanent residency. The proposal insists that those who have entered the country illegally would not get preferential treatment over legal immigrants playing by the rules.

The only exceptions would be made for seasonal agricultural workers as well as young individuals who unknowingly entered the country illegally as children in a move similar to the DREAM Act proposal that has stalled in Congress for years.

Looks familiar, huh?

Some will say, “Finally!” I’m more willing to say, “Why didn’t you do this during Term 1?” Obviously, the Sunday talking head shows showed a remarkable move to the left on the issue from Senator McCain, as he pointed to the 2012 election results. Republicans still have it in mind that Latinos somehow belong to them, but we’re not single issue people. Mess with our health care, mess with our Social Security, mess with safety net programs and college financial aid, and Latinos will continue to respond, despite the Latino Decisions poll, which I think did not really go into depth tying all issues together.

Still, there are some issues of contention that I’m not in favor of at this point. The Republicans’ insistence that the pathway not begin until some imaginary security measure is instituted has yet to be described.

Before a pathway to citizenship can happen, the group says that new border security measures first must take effect, including an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and agents at the border, new rules for tracking people entering the country on temporary visas and the creation of a commission of southwestern political and community leaders to ensure the new enforcement mechanisms take effect.

But if “legal status” comes before the path to citizenship, then it may be the one thing that will bring both sides together. Unfortunately, the point where the pathway begins may become a long-term debate in the process. Perhaps the committee will iron that out, although, I believe it should be made up of non-elected officials, perhaps human rights representatives, law enforcement, and the like. Someone like Rick Perry on a committee will only make it a platform for 2016.

The contentious part on the Republicans side will be that of “amnesty,” which a good chunk of their Tea Party favorites will call the measure, despite the fines and rules. I expect the vitriol to come from that general direction.

Of course, I cannot say I’m in favor of some of those security measures. Unmanned drones flying around the Valley and South Texas aren’t something that would make me feel “secure.” Any type of militarization of areas in which 90% of the population is Mexican American makes me kind of nervous. Has anyone asked Americans who live in these areas how they feel about that?

The President announces his ideas on Tuesday, but for all intents and purposes, it would seem that those who are supposed to be creating legislation (Congress) are actually working toward something.

Chip In and Support Los Angeles del Desierto

We’ve all heard the stories of migrants who cross deserts and treacherous waterways as they attempt to find a better life. Along with those stories are those in which migrants lose their lives in desolate, desert areas. And that includes Texas.

Los Angeles del Desierto is an all-volunteer search and rescue operation of lost migrants on the US/Mexico Border founded in 1997 by Rafael Hernandez.

For the last 15 years, Hernandez has dedicated his time, resources and financial stability to save lives, lay the dead to rest and ease the pain of countless families looking for their loved ones. Using his skills and training as a paramedic, Hernandez has conducted numerous searches/rescues of migrants reported missing or left behind in mountains, deserts and other isolated border areas in California, Arizona and Texas.

Hernandez and his volunteers, whom he recruits and trains, have evacuated an estimated 90 migrants in mortal danger when lost, physically ill, and suffering the consequences of extreme weather during border crossings.

As reported by the Chron, they were in Houston a few days ago to speak about their work. With three vehicles and 10 volunteers, they have now set off to South Texas, and, according to representatives are currently in Encinal, TX–about 70 miles south of my hometown of Crystal City and just north of Laredo.

Two of the largest ranches in South Texas have given permission to Los Angeles Del Desierto to look for missing migrants.Until now, our local coalition Houston United and individuals were able to cover the expenses needed to assist Los Angeles Del Desierto with their mission. On this occasion, we find that we do not have sufficient funds to get them beyond our city. We need your help now.

Over 127 bodies of migrants were found in 2012 around the Falfurrias checkpoint, double the previous year. The work done by Los Angeles del Desierto provides those families with lost loved ones some closure, and at the very least the security in mind that their loved ones were treated with dignity. But they need our help–whatever donation you can give is greatly appreciated.

You may click here to make your contribution. Share this post or “like” them on Facebook and share them.


Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair Weekend in March!

I’ll let the good folks from the Texas Talent Musicians Association tell you all about it.

SAN ANONIO, TX (01-15-2013) – Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) presents the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2013. Set for March 14-17, 2013, thousands of Tejano Music Fans from across the country will travel to Historic Market Square in Downtown San Antonio for the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2013.

The four-day event will showcase over 125 bands from across the U.S.A to include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Illinois. The TMA Fan Fair draws over 90,000 die-hard fans each year. The Fan Fair offers an up close and personal atmosphere with live music on five stages featuring emerging acts to top veteran performers.

The family oriented event offers plenty of traditional food, beverage and vendor booths and Tejano Music merchandise. Fans will get exclusive access to their favorite artists participating in the special autograph sessions scheduled during the four days of Fan Fair.

The Tejano Music Awards continues to shine each year by producing one of the largest Tejano Music events in the country. Performing this year Michael Salgado, Gary Hobbs, Ruido Anejo, Jaime y los Chamacos, Los Hermanos Farias, Los Palominos, David Marez, Hometown Boys, Ricardo Castillon Y La Diferenzia , AJ Castillo, Monica Castro, Ricky Valenz, Jessica Sanchez and Tejano Highway 281 more artists to be announced.

San Antonio “Tejano Capital of the World”, will host the 33rd Annual Tejano Music Awards Show for early fall of 2013.

For the latest information on 33rd Tejano Music Awards and TMA Fan Fair 2013 performance schedule and hotel information please visit


Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote professional excellence; a better understanding and greater appreciation for Tejano music; and to provide a public forum for songwriters, performs and musicians in order to recognize their artistic efforts and achievements through the annual Tejano Music Awards and related events. TTMA is based in San Antonio, Texas.

What About the Latina Wage Gap?

The National Partnership for Women and Families released some new information found in the most recent Census:  Latinas are getting hit worse by the gender wage gap.

In the 20 states with the largest number of Latinas who work full time, year round, the wage gap ranges from 51 and 68 cents for every dollar paid to men in those states.

The fact that there is a wage gap isn’t a surprise, but as women are said to make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, the fact that Latinas are making even less is cause for concern, and in the case of the National Partnership, action.

“Women of color are hard hit by a kind of perfect – and perfectly devastating – storm caused by discrimination, a struggling economy and the country’s failure to adopt family friendly workplace policies,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “These new data show that the wage gap is costing women of color thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could be spent on food, rent, health care and on meeting other fundamental needs for their families. It’s an unacceptable situation that should be a resounding wake-up call for lawmakers who have the power to do something about it.”

When one looks at it in real dollar figures:

Nationally, Latinas are paid just 60 cents for every dollar paid to all men. That amounts to a loss of $19,182 each year. In general, women of color fare worse than women overall, who are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to all men – or $11,084 less per year.

The National Partnership is supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act which would close loopholes to the Equal Pay Act and provide for stronger worker protections for women. This is definitely something that we must support.

The National Partnership’s findings for the 20 states with the largest numbers of employed Latinas and African American women can be found at and More information on the wage gap can be found at

Texas HOPE Brings Agenda To Capitol

Just a reminder that starting at noon on Tuesday, January 8, Texas HOPE will be rallying at the South Steps of the Texas Capitol to remind Texas Legislators that they have a job to do, and part of that job is to give attention to those legislative items that they have highlighted.

“Latinos cannot continue to be ignored,” said Joey Cardenas, Executive Director of HOPE. “The future of Texas depends on the investments Texas puts into education, higher education, healthcare, and economic development for all Texans. Latino leaders throughout Texas are here to make their voices heard and bring attention to the failed policies of the past that are harming our kids and families.”

“The William C. Velasquez Institute is proud to stand with Texas Latino groups as we strive to change policy towards the betterment of our community. We ask the Legislature to work with us to make Texas the model all states follow in pro-immigrant policies, job creation, protecting our environment and educating all children,” said Patricia Gonzales, Senior Vice President WCVI.

“We call on the Governor and the Texas Legislature to make Latinos and their families a priority this legislative session. We call on Texas Government to invest on the Latino community’s present and future. Latinos need to be part of the solution and at the table not on the menu,” said Lydia Camarillo, SVREP Vice President.

The rally speakers list also includes a Houston voice, that of Fidencio Leija, Jr. of Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting. “The demographic changes, statewide and within our school districts, community colleges and universities, show us that if we want Texas’ star to shine brighter, Latinos must be a priority and a part of our future success as a state. The voting impact of Latinos is being felt nationally and we will no longer be seen as a “what if” community. Likewise, we must re-commit to ensure our Veterans are also beneficiaries of our state’s investment–in job creation, education, and health care. It is up to the legislature to take this seriously and enact policies that are good for all Texans, or else they will feel it at the ballot box.”

More details from the rally later.

Watch Junot Diaz on Moyers!

The good folks at Moyers Media sent the link to show off to all. Thanks to them! (for big screen)

The life and work of Junot Díaz contains many worlds. His books, including National Book Award finalist This Is How You Lose Her and Pulitzer Prize-winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, journey between the old and the new, and between the America that was and the America we’re becoming. Born in the Dominican Republic, but raised in New Jersey and American to the core, Junot Díaz is a spotter of the future, a curator of the past, a man of the here-and-now.

Díaz joins Bill to discuss the evolution of the great American story. Along the way he offers funny and perceptive insights into his own work, as well as Star Wars, Moby Dick, and America’s inevitable shift to a majority minority country.

There is an enormous gap between the way the country presents itself and imagines itself and projects itself and the reality of this country,” Díaz tells Bill. “Whether we’re talking about the Latino community in North Carolina. Whether we’re talking about a very active and I think in some ways very out queer community across the United States. Or whether we’re talking about an enormous body of young voters who are either ignored or sort of pandered to or in some ways, I think that what we’re having is a new country emerging that’s been in the making for a long time.”

Click on the link to find out about a live chat with Diaz on Thursday.

Best American Poetry Features Tomas Q. Morin

Are you a fan of poetry, or perhaps, someone who hopes to become a poet, or even a writer of some sort? Well, my friend and poet, Tomas Q. Morin is featured as a guest blogger all this week at Best American Poetry.

Tomas recently published his first collection of poetry, A Larger Country, which was the winner of the 2012 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. So, yeah, he’s the real deal, plus he’s a pretty awesome dude.

He’s already got his first couple of posts up, I Be Monsters and Workshop Days, which provide us a look into his early days of writing. And I thought I was the king of self-criticism.

Some of these poems, in spite of how poorly made they were, brought my mother to tears when she read them because there we were, our family, our struggles, on a piece of paper. It was a record, albeit a weak one, that we had lived and suffered and were still here.

Check him out, and don’t forget to buy his collection, A Larger Country, at your favorite bookstore.

The Austin Trip–So Far

Yes, blogging has been a little slow, but Austin has been keeping me busy. Actually, Central Texas, generally.

Central Texas

Monday, my camarada and Houston organizer, Fidencio Leija, invited me to my old stomping grounds in San Marcos to meet his protege’, Nathan. Nathan is a grad student at Texas State (PoliSci, what else?) and is going to head up an effort to register and GOTV Latino students, as well as San Marcos residents. It’s not a project for the faint of heart, actually, but his energy will definitely be contagious. A visit to the elections office, a voter registrar training later, and some good insight from the head of the office, and Nathan is set!


Facebook is a great little tool, sometimes. How else would I have found about Austin’s HABLA platica held this morning at Austin Java. HABLA is Hispanic Advocates Business Leaders of Austin, a local think tank that meets to discuss solutions on various issues impacting the Austin Latino community. Today’s discussion was on the continuing debate over single member districts in Austin.

Advocates in the Latino community are pushing for a 10-1 solution–10 districts (geographic representation), 1 Mayor elected at-large–while some city insiders push for a hybrid solution (8-2-1), kind of like the one we have in Houston. Much of this will come to a head on Thursday as Austin City Council meets to discuss what may/will become a referendum on the November ballot. While Council may present a hybrid solution, 10-1 advocates have been collecting signatures for a 10-1 referendum. Will both appear on the ballot? Will it be either/or? I guess all of this might be answered, or at least discussed, on Thursday. I plan on being there to check things out.

Ultimately, Austinites must demand that they hold the power; not certain special interest groups who anoint candidates ahead of time. That’s what geographic representation is all about.

Somos Tejanos

So, Somos Tejanos is going to change slightly. After a year of constant activity, blogging, and being a one-touch source of information for Tejanos, the evolution continues. I think the boss, Amaury Nora, said it best:

Simply put, the effective public use of social networks to influence policy isn’t something that needs to be proven feasible now, it has shifted into a reality that needs to be improved upon and promoted.

Given that evolution, Somos Tejanos must change to meet the needs of the community. Last year can be viewed as a useful experiment in learning about public policy and social networks, with a finite lifespan. It will not be a dramatic change from our mission, as we’ll be continuing in the work without any pause or interruption.

The adventure definitely continues! Stay connected.

And I even have celeb news:  MACHETE is in the same hotel as I. Danny Trejo is in town shooting the sequel, Machete Kills. As I walked off the parking garage elevator I saw him in the restaurant with his entourage and I just froze. Phone dying, camera up in the room, totally unprepared. I’m carrying my camera with me and my phone charger from now on!

That’s my update during hump day in Austin. It hasn’t been humid, which is a welcome change; but, the sun does feel like it’s going to burn right through me, sometimes. See you soon!

Houston: DREAMer Info Summit

Rally for Reproductive Rights – The Bus Schedule

Thanks to Richard Shaw for getting this bit of information out about Saturday the 28th.

Rally with the Women of Texas on the Steps of the Capitol

Unite against the War on Women!

Date:    Saturday, April 28, 2012

Time:    4-6 P.M.

Where:  Texas State Capitol, Austin, Texas (South Steps)

Buses from Houston

North:  Deerbrook Mall parking lot by Macy’s, 20131 Highway 59 North, Humble, Texas 77338

Central:  Lowe’s parking lot, behind the IBEW Hall, 1475 North Loop West, Houston, Texas 77008

Cost:  $20 early registration (by April 25th)

 $25 after April 25th

Meet at 11 a.m.  Buses depart promptly at 11:30 a.m.

Bring your favorite snacks or soft drinks.  Water provided.

Reservation and payment required:

For Inquires, email: or leave phone message at 713-868-4805.