Category Archives: TDP Convention 2010

Birnberg: Republicans’ Shameful Hostility Toward Latinos

Harris County Democratic Chief Gerry Birnberg called out the Republican Party on its recent treatment of Latinos in a message to party faithful. As much as pundits and “non-profit” leaders attempt to sell the Latino electorate as some sort of independent voice, we have a clear choice:  A party that is at least working on pro-worker, pro-people, and pro-family policies, or a party that is unafraid to show their hate toward whole groups of people.  Birnberg explains it well, but if ever there is an opportunity to vote a complete STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC ticket, it is now.

Recently every single Republican in the United States Senate voted against allowing that body to even consider the so-called DREAM Act. The Dream Act would have allowed children who were brought to this country by undocumented parents at least five years ago and before the age of 15 and who obtained a high school diploma or G.E.D. a chance to earn U. S. citizenship by completing at least two years of college or two years of military service and fulfilling other demands and requirements. It would be a good deal all the way around – for young men and women who were brought to this country by their parents, without any choice, but who have worked hard, succeeded well, done what has been asked of them, and want to serve their country – the United States – in its military; for the military, which wants the service these you people want to provide; and for the country, which gets good, educated, motivated, contributing citizens.

But Republicans – every single one of them – oppose that.

Once again Republicans showed their deep disdain for Latino families. So what else is new?

Do you realize that if it were up to Republicans, no one would even be allowed to speak Spanish in this country?

Think I’m kidding? Or exaggerating? Well, read the official Platform of the Texas Republican Party passed at their state convention just last July. This is a direct quote from that document: “We have room for but one language here and that is the English language.” Their platform goes on to demand, “One nation, one flag, one language.” And in case you didn’t get the point, the platform also calls for “adoption of American English as the official language of Texas.”

The second most important (for Republicans) item on their education agenda (according to their Platform) is elimination of bilingual education after first grade (for children attending pre-K, which, by the way, they oppose), after the second grade for kids who go to kindergarten, and after the third year of school for everybody.

No bilingual education and no speaking Spanish (or any other language other than “American English,” whatever that means – I guess English speakers from England or Canada wouldn’t be welcome here either, because they probably use “English English” or Canadian English”). How much more hostile to Latino families can you get?

And that after deciding that Cesar Chavez shouldn’t be in the schoolbooks our students study.

Republicans also want to kick children younger than 26 off their parents’ health insurance policies and allow insurance companies to refuse to cover kids who have preexisting conditions. They want to eliminate all programs that deal with early childhood development. The Republican platform also calls for repeal of hate crimes laws and unashamedly advocates use of racial profiling.

And I haven’t even mentioned the “I” word yet – immigration, where Republicans want to increase deportations dramatically, amend the Constitution to eliminate making anyone born in this country a citizen of the United States, allow hospitals to refuse to provide care to undocumented individuals, and do away with “Adjustment of Status” in immigration cases (among other things), while vehemently opposing “any” path to citizenship for folks who entered the country without documentation or overstayed their visas.

How can anyone doubt the hostility Republicans continually and unabashedly display for Latino families? Or vote for people who associate themselves with those beliefs and “values”?

It’s simply beyond me.

Gerry Birnberg
Chair, Harris County Democratic Party
September 23, 2010

JRR Dinner Needs Auction Items!

My friend Karen Wheaton, a volunteer with the Johnson Rayburn Richards Dinner–the premier Democratic fundraiser of the year–is asking for more Silent Auction items.

The silent auction is fun–especially when you really get into a bidding war. Heck, one time, these darn liberals had a chance at a hunting trip to South Texas and my brother-in-law coasted to one of the most economical (and fruitful) hunts he’s had!  So, you can win an auction quite easily, too!

So, if you have something to donate–tickets to an event, hand-made Democratic stuff, or just about anything, donate it.

As Karen tells me:

We need all donations to be brought to the HCDP Headquarters (1445 North Loop West) or one of the Campaign Offices by Wednesday. We’ll pick them up from around town but make sure they know they are donating to the Silent Auction! There are forms at each one of the Campaign Office locations so they will need to get one and fill it out to be placed with their donation.

Here’s your chance to help our Team make a few bucks during this fun-filled and important night.

What the Trib Didn’t Tell You

Ellis Island-The Amnesty Line

The Texas Trib has a report on President Obama’s noted increases in deportations. Going off of a Syracuse University report on immigration and deportation, various facts are noted which President Obama can boast about to appease the right.

Of the 279,035 removed, 136,714, or about half, were convicted criminal aliens. The figure represents a 60-percent increase from the same time frame in 2008 and a 58-percent jump from the Obama Administration’s first year.

Bravo, President Obama. You’re showing us what 287(g) and Secure Communities can do regarding deportations.

But, if you recall a debate in which I participated which included Harris County Sheriff’s staffer Bernstein, my questions regarding the effectiveness of these programs was regarding the target of detention as ordered by ICE–Level 1 Criminal Aliens.  While Bernstein could not provide any real numbers by level of crime, they did push that 20,000 number of those detainees given to ICE.

The Syracuse reports gives us some facts that the Trib failed to report. We even get a few facts as to how specific crimes are classified (traffic violations are LEVEL 2).

Of the 136,000 or so labeled “criminal,” only 46,000 or so are classified Level 1, which means 66% of “criminal” removals were Levels 2 and 3.  Given that we don’t know specifics on the crimes committed, and the fact that traffic violations are considered Level 2, I would venture to say that a majority of the 2s and 3s weren’t even deported on “deportable offenses.”  Unfortunately, it is even possible to make a misdemeanor an “aggravated felony,” nowadays, so the bottom line is that ICE is doing this despite all of the flaws in the system.

In other words, the vast majority of “criminal” aliens deported may not have even been eligible for deportation if they had been able to come into the United States in the back of the line that doesn’t even move.

And that leaves out the 142,000 non-criminal aliens deported (and separated from families and decimating local economies). All of this without even an attempt from Congress and President Obama to push through Comprehensive Immigration Reform.


President Obama has a fine line to walk.  On the one hand, he has failed to keep a promise he made to Latino voters, but he is playing defense against the far-right.  Who to appease?

Well, had he pushed through Comprehensive Immigration Reform in his first year in office…well, you know where I’m going with this.

Are Dems Willing to Listen, Now?

One of the best excuses used by Democratic operatives when asked about bringing out the Latino vote during all of this anti-immigrant turmoil was a polling “fact” that said immigration polled at the bottom of the Latino electorate’s most important issues.

Obviously, the economy, education, health care have been at the top, but when one is attacked, one defends.  Is it any wonder why this blogger (for some silly reason) expected the Democrats to not only defend from Republican hate, but push for comprehensive immigration reform throughout the 2nd half of this year?

Obviously, Democrats from President Obama down to the lowly non-Latino Democratic precinct chair have not really wanted the issue as part of the overall 2010 agenda–other than to say “we’re” being tough, or worse, agreeing with the right wing’s lies surrounding immigration and even supporting the racist Arizona racial profiling law.

Well, the L.A. Times reported on a recent poll that now has immigration as one of the top issues of the Latino electorate.  Yes, when one is attacked, one does defend.

Latinos now view immigration as their leading concern along with the economy in what activists say is a major shift most likely driven by controversy over Arizona’s tough law against illegal immigrants.

Nearly a third of Latinos also believe that racism and prejudice are the central issue in the immigration debate, over national security, job competition and costs of public services for illegal immigrants, according to a national survey released Wednesday.

And it’s not just Latino Democrats.

The poll found that the vast majority of those surveyed strongly opposed the new Arizona law and strongly supported an immigration policy overhaul providing for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and deportation of felons. Republican Latinos showed similar views on these issues as Democrats and independents.

OK–Democrats, who’s in charge and why aren’t you leading on this issue during the 2010 campaign? If ever the opportunity existed to not only bring Latinos that vote completely to our side and to the polls, but include those who aren’t avid voters but are paying attention, this is it.

And in the Texas Governor’s race, Rick Perry still leads Bill White by 9 points. It’s time for what seems to be the silver bullet.

Woodfill and GOP: Faux Love of Latinos While Hating on Latinos

One thing that was quite obvious at last week’s Texas Democratic Convention was the diversity of the Democratic Party. And one positive aspect that showed the diversity of Latinos in the Party was the fact that there were three different Latino-oriented caucuses which then would meet as one official caucus in a show of unity for our candidates and our platform.

Bottom line:  The Democrats are diverse and the recently approved Democratic Platform is one based on progress, rather than backwards thinking (like the GOPs).

So, when the TDP sent out a list of quotes from a notable and diverse set of Democrats, Harris County GOP Chair Woodfill wasted no time in attacking the diversity of the Democrats by promoting a political agenda that Latinos and other people of color simply would never support.

“At their convention, Republicans followed up their purging of Hispanic candidates in March’s Primary with an emphatic message of hate and division to the Hispanic community,” said State Representative Jessica Farrar, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. “While the Democratic convention is focusing on the excitement around the Bill White campaign and hearing the concerns of all citizens, Republicans mainly used their convention to identify Texans they view as undesirable and laying out the steps that can be taken to block their path to prosperity.”

We take exception to Jessica Farrar’s comments, which completely misconstrued the business of the Republican Convention recently held in Dallas, TX.  As usual, Farrar’s tired rhetoric was meant to confuse and obfuscate Republican advocacy for border security, responsible immigration process, and the rule of law.

Actually, I think Rep. Farrar hit the Republican platform and record spot-on. Woodfill’s Republicans want to criminalize immigrants, racially profile Latinos, continue starving public and higher education which have growing numbers of Latino students, and continue the divisive politics as usual that has driven the Texas economy and its education system into an abyss that only Democratic policies can save. The Republicans have nothing to offer Texas, except window dressing. And to Latinos, they offer a “conservative like me” hand-shake with a knife in the back to follow on policies that best benefit Latinos and all Texans.

The rest of Woodfill’s e-mail is a right-wing attack on Farrar with a money-demand for her opponent. Now, I know Rep. Farrar and she happens to be a good representative for her constituents and a tireless fighter in Austin for the issues that matter to the vast majority of Texans.  She does not run from her record, nor does she promote an agenda that would set Texas back over half-a-century.

Woodfill and the GOP on the other hand, they need to come up with something better than their “we think just like you Hispanics” tag line which has continuously failed, given their continual support of racist and anti-Latino laws.

List of TDP Official Quotes on Diversity Below the fold.

Continue reading

Texas Dems’ Immigration Plank

The Texas Democratic Party’s duly elected delegates to the state convention approved a comprehensive platform for the party.  The plank I was most interested in was the one on immigration.  Would the TDP be the opposite of the Republicans, or would they avoid–as had been done during some, if not most, of the speeches from candidates and leaders. Here’s the result:

The Texas Democratic Party recognizes that we are a nation of immigrants. Here in Texas, we honor those immigrants, their children and their grandchildren, who fought and died to protect our freedom and earn the blessings of liberty for themselves and all Americans.

Today, immigrants come to our country from all areas of the world. Some come legally and many come without documentation, but almost all are driven by economic necessity. Texas Democrats recognize that a workable immigration policy requires a no-nonsense solution instead of proposals that serve only as political props and wedge issues designed to incite fear for partisan gain. For years, the politics of division has prevailed and the federal government has failed to do its job. A clear and uniformly enforced federal immigration policy is long overdue. The fundamental tenets of a comprehensive immigration policy require an aggressive yet practical approach, including measures that would:

  • secure all our borders, including the allocation and use of sufficient resources to equip and maintain a well-trained Border Patrol with the manpower needed to effectively police our borders;
  • enforce existing immigration laws;
  • eliminate bureaucratic logjams that delay and frustrate those who attempt to follow the rules to become citizens;
  • emphasize economic security and development on both sides of the border;
  • continue the United States’ constitutional provision making all persons born in this country citizens of this country;
  • provide for strict enforcement, appropriate punishment and economic sanctions against those who profit by hiring undocumented workers; and
  • establish a path to citizenship for those who meet qualifications and seek to become part of our national community.

Texas Democrats also realize that politicians who pander politically with foolish, shortsighted and wasteful proposals are not offering solutions. Texas will not become Arizona, and we strongly oppose:

  • any law that would, through its enforcement, result in discrimination; intimidation or victimization of citizens based on their race, ethnicity or appearance;
  • any law that would force law enforcement agencies to divert limited resources and manpower from their primary duty to protect citizens and prevent crime in order to enforce immigration policy that is the responsibility of the federal government;
  • any law that would prohibit ethnic studies classes;
  • any law that could make it more difficult for a qualified citizen to exercise the right to vote;
  • any effort to expand the existing border fence without regard to the border economy, environmental impact or property rights;
  • wasteful efforts like Governor Perry’s “virtual wall” of border cameras that resulted in only a handful of apprehensions at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per arrest; and
  • measures that attempt to improperly limit the constitutional requirement to provide for the health, education, and safety needs of individuals and communities.

Ultimately, the best interest of the United States requires us to help our neighboring countries develop their economies and create better paying jobs for workers in those countries to make the lure of a better paying job in the U.S. less attractive. We believe it is the height of hypocrisy for Republicans who consistently support outsourcing jobs to cheap labor markets overseas to claim they are “protecting American jobs” with extreme immigration proposals.

First, let’s start with “securing the border.” It has become obvious that the Obama Administration has been doing more on the enforcement side than the Bush Administration ever talked about; in fact, it has continued a policy of family separation, deportation and detention of people who may one day qualify for the path to legalization, and other innocent people (DREAM Act future beneficiaries).

A commitment to supporting ridding ICE and CIS of the “logjams” that place families at the back of line that does not move is a welcome pronouncement. And the vast majority of the plank is positive and supportive of policies that would make for an effective comprehensive immigration reform plan.

Although the Higher Education plank includes a supportive statement for the “Texas DREAM Act,” the in-state tuition for undocumented students law which then State-Rep. Rick Noriega put in place, a supportive statement of the DREAM Act from the national scale, which provides for a path to status for children of immigrants brought here by their parents, is missing. The DREAM Act movement is one that is not stalled at the moment, and deserves a push.

One other statement that I believe should have been included was one which favors the Uniting American Families Act. Not only does this Act further emphasize that comprehensive immigration reform is more about family unity and valuing famlies, it also shows a growing unity with other constituencies; in this case, the LGBT community.

Ultimately, this is definitely the strongest statement put forth by the Democratic Party in a long time. Instead of running away from Arizona and the Berman/Riddle threats to the Latino community, they took them on in this document.

The important thing is that our candidates (from the state house to the court house) follow it and promote it when asked about it and are out campaigning.

Tiny, Booming Voiced Candidate Takes the Stage at TDP

Linda Chavez-Thompson announces, “I am the next Lt. Governor of the State of Texas.

“We are not apologizing for being Democrats and fighting for working families…”

“A balanced budget doesn’t mean that you’ve taken care of our school, or children…”

“You know how many zeroes in $19,000,000,000?  11 including Perry and Dewhurst.”

“Well Perry has had 10 years in office and Dewhurst 8.  If the boys aren’t prepared to muscle up then it’s time they step aside.”

But dropouts are just a symptom of a larger broken system — a system that has already failed our children before they’ve even entered the first grade.  Parenting Magazine, recently spelled out the epidemic that is the early literacy crisis:

“While a child growing up in a middle class neighborhood will own an average of 13 books at any given time, low-income communities average about one book for every 300 children.”

In the face of such a daunting crisis, what does the Republican Party offer?  A platform that calls for abolishing federally sponsored pre-kindergarten classes.

They just don’t get it.

“I realize us Texans are known for our big talk.  But the outside world needs to know there is some truth to the Texas myth.  Because when you’re born in the Lone Star State, you just grow up believing the sky is the limit.  It’s true for this daughter of a cotton sharecropper.  And in today’s economy, it can still hold true for any Texas child with a book in their hand.

“But at the recent Republican Party Convention, the same Rick Perry who has trouble counting dropouts made a bold statement that just knocked my socks off.  He said, and I quote, “This is the home of a Hispanic in America:  The Republican Party.”

Listen, any home that neglects children like the Republican Party of Texas should be reported to Child Protective Services.

So what is their grand scheme to get the Latino vote?

According to the Dallas Morning News:
•    Perry hired a Spanish speaking Press Secretary
•    He launched a Spanish language web and twitter site
•    And he hired a Hispanic ad agency that sells beer and Domino’s pizza.

Por favor!

To paraphrase my good friend Jim Hightower, you can stuff a jalapeño in a pig but that doesn’t make it chorizo.

Now we must follow in Bill White’s example.

It’s up to you and me to lift the aspirations of those who have given up hope … it’s up to you and me to lift our economy by electing leaders up and down the ballot who will invest in education … and it’s up to you and me to lift up our hearts and send a message loud and clear that we will not stand for the neglect of any child.

Nosotros tenemos la responsibilidad de luchar por nuestros hijos y nuestros nietos.    Y como Demócratas, no olvidamos nuestros responsibilidades.

We have enough challenges, and 11 zeroes is two zeroes too many.

We win when we lift up our voices.  So make sure they hear you.  Are you ready to go to work?  Are you ready to win?  I am. Thank you and God bless.  Muchisimas gracias y que dios les bendiga.

Bill White’s Speech to TDP Delegates

Democrat for Governor, Bill White, energized a crowd of Democrats with a speech that had familiar themes expected from  your usual Democratic convention.

We all believe that Texans need more jobs, with real futures.

We all understand that Texans work hard to create a better life for our children.

And we all know that Texans are ready for a new governor!

We gather in Corpus today because we share common values:

We believe in freedom and diversity, but we understand that real leadership unites us.

We take pride in our state’s heritage, but we understand that we have come a long way in breaking down barriers and our greatest days can be ahead of us.

White wasted no time in going after his opponent Rick Perry, also using one all too familiar theme of late.

We learn that Perry charges taxpayers for a $10,000 a month rented mansion, larger than anything used by prior governors, with chefs and a subscription to Food & Wine magazine.


We know that Rick Perry accepted more federal stimulus dollars than any Governor except those in California and New York. In fact, federal dollars have been the fastest growing source of state funding since he has been governor. Yet now we hear that he is writing a book on state’s rights, called “Fed Up.” How does he have time to write a book when hehasn’t even written a state budget that adds up? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

And then he went for the heart-strings of all of the folks with working class backgrounds.

I learned the value of service from my parents, life-long educators. My dad held down two jobs for most of the time I was growing up. My brother and I learned hard work, faith, and the value of education. En San Antoniocreemos que todos merecen respecto . We were taught that life is about what you give, not what you take; it’s about preparing for the future– leaving our community, our state, our nation, better than we found it.

I used this background to build great businesses, to create jobs, to balance budgets and meet payrolls.

And then his record.

These values and skills served me well as mayor of our largest city. We cut crime rates, expanded parks and health clinics, cleaned the air, brought dropouts back to school, and improved services for veterans. We did so while building surpluses and cutting property tax rates for five straight years.

Because I’m in it for Texas we’ll do the hard work Rick Perry has never done: we’ll prepare Texas for a better future. That means moving forward–not standing still–on education and job training.

Missing from the speech has been one theme which would energize the vast Latino electorate from which Democrats are seeking votes–immigration and the Arizona law. Perhaps a defense of Texans targeted by such a law. Perhaps even a call to Washington for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the DREAM Act. But it didn’t happen in this speech.

One of the themes at the Convention has been the need to increase Latino participation in November, of which I will be writing more in a later post. I’m hoping there are stronger messages from the speakers on Saturday, because thus far, the strongest message has been from the hundreds of “Do I Look Illegal?” buttons that En Contacto Communications has been handing out to delegates.

DC is Corpus-Bound–Texas Dem Convention will be covering the Texas Democratic Convention this week, beginning Thursday and ending Saturday.

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