A Wall, A Fence: Hysteria and Hate Continue To Build It

H.R. 6061, the “Secure Fence Act of 2006“, was introduced on September 13, 2006. It passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on September 14, 2006 with a vote of 283–138.

On September 29, 2006, by a vote of 80–19 the U.S. Senate confirmed H.R. 6061 authorizing, and partially funding the “possible” construction of 700 miles (1,125 km) of physical fence/barriers along the border. The very broad support implied that many assurances were been made by the Administration — to the Democrats, Mexico, and the pro “Comprehensive immigration reform” minority within the GOP — that Homeland Security would proceed very cautiously. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, announced that an eight-month test of the virtual fence he favored would precede any construction of a physical barrier.

On October 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 6061 which was voted upon and passed by the 109th Congress of the United States.

borderbeachtjI remember that 80-19 vote. I remember Hillary Clinton being among the eighty. And Chuck Schumer. And other Democrats that were loved by many.

A decade later, over 5,000 souls have perished attempting to find new entry points, dying in treacherous terrain, hot deserts, and at the hands of smugglers. Humans who were just looking for something better than their US-tainted home countries offered.

Trump’s wall is nothing new, really. Much like the current fencing, it’s a symbol of fear, blame, and hate. Or, as the old white Democrat (men and women) who voted for Trump calls it, “economic anxiety.”

That Republicans propose this kind of hate is nothing new. REAL ID and HR4437 back in 2005-2006 were in direct response to Mexican and other Latino migrants. But why do Democrats go along with it?

More often that not, Democrats go along with this kind of hate because they fear getting ousted by the bigots in their districts and states. So many times, I’ve been criticized for writing about Democratic bigotry in the ranks of the party, and told that “we need to win re-election,” as if some fake majority will save us.

A decade later, Trump’s wall may get its beginnings. Ridding itself of the EPA, I doubt time will be wasted on environmental impact statements. Ridding itself of the parks service, I doubt there will be any talk about protecting some of the area’s furry residents. And, certainly, such a project will call for an increase in military (and militaristic–think #NoDAPL’s response) presence on the border.

One can argue waste and corruption, which will happen. But no one will listen. This has been a decade in the making. Politically, though, it shows why Democrats should never support anything like this. All one has to do is realize the intentions of such policies and a NO vote should be easy. Unless, they actually enjoy promoting hate, blame, and fear.

Still, I doubt Democrats will ever learn. What’s upsetting is that it’s usually on issues regarding migrants and Latinos.

 

 

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Trump Leaves DACA Alone For Now

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Credit:  Lalo Alcaraz

 

The Trump campaign-turned-administration has perfected the way it instills fear in communities. Of course, the fear has created plenty of activists who will hopefully remain committed to a multitude of issues utilized by Trump to gain enough votes in a few states to win the electoral vote.  Monday was a stressful day for DACA beneficiaries–numbering about 750,000 nationally. By mid-afternoon, it seemed Trump left Obama’s executive order which created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals alone.

Even his COS Priebus and his alternative mouthpiece Spicer seemed to try to calm pro-migrant forces a bit by stating that the priority is “criminal” immigrants. Cesar Espinosa, ED of FIEL, a local immigrant rights group, asked, “What is ‘criminal?'”

The Obama administration used the same kind of program to deport 3 million and warehouse thousands more in private prisons. Early on, the majority of deportees were convicted of low-grade, non-deportable crimes, but were still sent to home countries, breaking up families, and affecting local economies. Now, with 750,000 DACA lives hanging in the balance, hundreds of thousands more of their parents, and millions more who are simply working and contributing to their communities waiting for Trump’s next move, there’s more fear and stress in the community.

The lack of action by Trump today didn’t provide much comfort. Activists, though, are looking to leadership at the local level.

The newly elected Sheriff of Travis County, Sally Hernandez announced her department would not cooperate with the Trump administration and has earned the ire of Greg Abbott who has gotten really good at making threats about funding. El Paso’s Democratic Sheriff, on the other hand, has decided to cooperate with Trump because he fears losing grant money.

Locally, activists await action from new Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. Gonzalez promised to rid the department of 287g, an immigrant removal program which provides grant money to the department. Since taking office, he hasn’t mentioned anything about that promise, and already there is the start of a movement requesting action from him and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

It’s only Day 5 and real issues are now being discussed. And we also have the Texas Lege to deal with who are bringing out multiple cans of crazy. Let’s stay focused.

No Vendidos in the Cabinet

8247534_f260I’m sorry, I think that was supposed to be “No Latinos in Trump’s Cabinet.”

Either way, the response to that would be, “GOOD!”

What good would a bunch of sell-outs do for Latinos?

Seriously, what would they do for DREAMers, the 11 million, for public education, for health care, women, LGBT, or the low-income elderly? They would be too busy proving how self-loathing and loyal they are to Trump. Let’s get real.

I swear, sometimes I think “professional” Latino groups like LULAC, NALEO, NCLR, and chambers of commerce are just in this game for free tickets to a White House dinner and a photo op. Of course, they’ll call it “advocacy,” right?

Oh, my, how will they get on a DC guest list, now?!?

These “pros” have this silly idea that an “X” in the Hispanic box on a federal form is the same as representation. It isn’t. Far from it. Especially in a Trump White House and Republican Congress. Especially if you have a legislative agenda.

There’ve been sell outs like Bush’s AG Al “Torture is Quaint” Gonzalez, or a Honduran nightmare of a Bush nominee Miguel Estrada for a federal court who wanted to do away with judicial review that were backed by some of these professional groups. And for what? Because they were labeled Latino? Because numbers were more important than policy and law? Yeah, that’s pretty much it. This isn’t advancement. It’s an insult to people’s intelligence.

Note to these corporate funded groups:  Don’t do us any favors.

 

HISD Board Appoints Flynn Vilaseca to Unexpired District VI Post

hollymariaI was happy and proud to hear that Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca was appointed by the Houston ISD Board of Trustees to the unexpired District VI post which I discussed this past weekend. Here’s the story from HISD:

Houston ISD Trustees on Monday unanimously agreed to appoint Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca to serve the unexpired trustee term representing District VI on the district’s west side.

Flynn Vilaseca, who is fluent in English and Spanish, worked as a bilingual teacher at HISD’s Windsor Village Elementary School as a Teach for America corps member from 2004 to 2006. Since then, Ms. Vilaseca has continued working in the education field with Battelle for Kids, K12 Inc., and thinkLaw.

“I am excited to serve the city and students of Houston,” Flynn Vilaseca said.

Flynn Vilaseca holds a master’s degree in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University, and bachelor’s degrees in Latin American and Caribbean studies and in sports management and communications from the University of Michigan.

Flynn Vilaseca, along with newly elected District VII Trustee Anne Sung, are scheduled to take the oath of office on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Both Flynn Vilaseca and Sung are filling unexpired trustee terms that run through the end of 2017.

I’ve known Holly Maria for about five years now and she’s been nothing short of impressive with her commitment to service and to public education. There is no doubt that she will be a good fit on the Board and for District VI. All one has to do is read her workplace bio:
Holly Maria is passionate about affording equitable access to education to all students and has been involved in the fight towards closing the achievement gap for the past twelve years. The daughter of an immigrant mother and blue-collar laborer growing up in a small town where opportunities were limited, she was the first in her family to go to college…
Congratulations to Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca!

Siggno Joins Rodeo Line-Up

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Copyright Siggno 2016

It’s a dream come true, according to an Instagram post by Jesse Turner, leader and vocalist of Grupo Siggno, who, along with Banda El Recodo, will be performing at RodeoHouston’s Tejano Day. And I must say, this is the closest the Rodeo has come to the Tejano genre in a long time.

Siggno is an acordeon-heavy South Texas Conjunto Norteño outfit out of the Rio Grande Valley. From their bajo-quinto laden rancheras to their heavy bottom bass cumbias to their rock/pop-influenced ballads, Siggno offers a powerful live show from start to finish. And in a shortened kind of show as bands are usually required to provide at the Rodeo, I’d bet Siggno’s will be explosive.

Siggno is currently touring on two albums, the recently released Rockteño and Yo Te Esperare which was released in early 2016. Already going on 15 years in the business, Siggno has enjoyed fan bases throughout the US and Mexico. After a tragic accident seriously injured Turner’s son and bassist, Jacob, they’ve remained busy. No doubt, this March 19 date at NRG Stadium will go down as one of their largest audiences.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, January 14. Click here for ticket site.

I’ve got a soft spot for Siggno because one of my reviews of their albums broke records on my site for visits.

The HISD Board Vacancy: A Few Thoughts

As Kuff reminded us back in December, there is a vacancy on the Houston ISD Board of Trustees after the resignation of Greg Meyers in District VI, and the Board will be appointing a replacement to complete Meyers’ term. A little bird tells me that the Board is getting closer to naming that appointee, so, it’s time the community have a conversation about this process.

District VI stretches from the Sharpstown area through the Westheimer/Gessner area and on to the far reaches of the west side to Highway 6. Given its meandering through these areas, little doubt is left as to its diversity, and this speaks volumes as to the need for added diversity on the school board. If anything, it also speaks to the need for a responsive, action-oriented individual to serve this trustee district.

That Houston ISD is diverse is nothing new. That 62% of its students are Latinos is also nothing new. Notwithstanding the trustee district’s westerly location, out of 15 elementary schools, eight are majority Latino schools, while two will soon reach majority Latino status. The future is not only diverse, but emergingly Latino at Houston ISD. As such, diversity in political representation is something that must be discussed.

Of course, ethnicity isn’t the only characteristic that is at issue. The recent election in which the vast majority of voters chose to not send local dollars to the State of Texas, instead choosing to call on the State Legislature to fix school finance shows that Houstonians are worried about the city’s educational foundation. The Board of Trustees needs someone who will advocate for Houston’s future–the kids–from Day 1 and beyond the rest of the term for which she/he will be appointed.

Some may argue “voter demographics” as a means of choosing a trustee who better matches up to past election results in the district, but there is such a thing as taxpayer demographics. Whether one is a homeowner or a renter, any ethnicity or color, and whether one lives closer to the west side or to Sharpstown, all are taxpayers and all deserve to be heard. Perhaps in the future the board can venture into a fairer redistricting process, but, until then, it is up to the Board in this instance.

Still, others may argue that District VI merely needs a placeholder to serve until the term is completed, while taxpayers wait for the November election to elect a full-term trustee. With the issues that Houston ISD faces, especially as a Legislative session looms, the Board needs a committed individual who is willing to serve beyond the year that is left in the term. It will not be a surprise if any placeholder decides to run for the full-term.

The Houston ISD Board of Trustees has a unique opportunity to be responsive to the needs of constituencies who often go ignored by government entities in this area of the city. Appointing an individual who has worked in and has an understanding of the current and future diversity of the district and who has an undying commitment to public education, K-12 and beyond, is the only path to achieving fair representation.

 

DosCentavos’ Top 10 Posts of 2016

It wasn’t a very productive year at DosCentavos.net. In fact, it’s been quite a bad year production-wise. Still, thanks to all my readers for keeping traffic steady despite a lack of content. We’ll still be around in 2017. We need to be.

Here are my Top 10 Posts of 2016 which earned good traffic from you all.

  1. 24 Hours in Cristal
  2. Juliet Stipeche Joins Turner Administration
  3. The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism
  4. Rest In Peace – Emilio Navaira
  5. Democrats Sweep Harris County
  6. Rest in Peace – Florencia (Flora) Medellin
  7. DC Reviews – Intocable ~ Highway
  8. DC Book Review – Johnny Hernandez ~ The Cottonpicker: An Odyssey
  9. Los Texmaniacs Conquer The Heights Theater
  10. Safety Pins, Obama, and Immigration Realities

Los Texmaniacs, Flaco, Augie, and Guitar Johnny Conquer The Heights Theater

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Los Texmaniacs brought with them founding Texas Tornados Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers and guitarist Johnny Nicholas and brought down The Heights Theater on Friday, 12/23/16. With a mix of Tex-Mex Conjunto, Tex-Mex Rock, and a dash of Country music, the sell-out crowd at the recently re-opened theater enjoyed a truly Tex-Mex Holiday concert.

Los Texmaniacs, led by Grammy winner Max Baca, solidified their place as Americana Music stars showing a diverse crowd that their music goes above and beyond what is usually expected from a Tex-Mex outfit.

I arrived early to gauge fan conversations, though. I didn’t know what to expect from the fans. The convos I heard ranged from love for Augie to worshipping of Flaco. And that was from the Anglos in the audience. They did ask:  Who are The Texmaniacs? Some were confused as they recalled Augie and Flaco as being part of The Texas Tornados. Boy, did they learn who The Texmaniacs are.

Truth be told, though, Max Baca was part of The Texas Tornados touring band. Beyond that, he’s considered Flaco Jimenez a musical father, a mentor, and even a teacher, back when Max was a kid. Decades later, Max gets to play mentor and teacher to his 24 year-old nephew Josh Baca who is on track to becoming an accordion legend like Flaco.

And, yes, there was music. The Maniacs’ first set was a short one and totally Tex-Mex. Kicking off with Lucerito and an instrumental of El Paso and San Antonio Rose. The usual Tex-Mex history lesson is always interesting which included an instrumental of Muchachos Alegres. Then came some country with How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly. Emotions ran high with a beautiful rendition of Cancion Mixteca. But there was also a new cumbia about a panadero. Most impressive was Johnny Nicholas providing rhythm guitar to the conjunto tunes, as well as some rockin’ solos.

The second much longer set brought on Augie Meyers to a loud response from the crowd. The talent who gave us Hey Baby Que Paso gifted us with that tune and so many others from his solo and Tornados career. Who Were You Thinking Of was one of my favorites. Of course, tears also “Flo’d” (for me) when Augie took on Mama Came To Visit Me In Texas, with only him and the piano. Little did I know it was about a Mama visiting her son from the afterlife, which hit me pretty hard this holiday season. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Flaco took the stage. He’s had a rough couple of years after a fall and some back and hip surgery, but his 30 minute set was indeed memorable and hard-driving. His accordion playing through Marina and Viva Seguin was impeccable, but it was a couple of tunes that put Flaco on the “mainstream” scene that got a great response. Dwight Yoakum’s Streets of Bakerfield and The Mavericks’ All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down were just amazing. As Flaco ended his part of the show, he thanked the crowd and then broke into a rendition of Feliz Navidad, on which The Texmaniacs easily joined in. And thanks to Flaco’s son who does so much for his daddy.

The rest of the show was rockin’ with a mix of tunes and genres. Danny Martinez on Drums and Noel Hernandez on Bass provided quite the rhythm section, while Augie Meyers stayed on stage with some improv piano accompaniment to conjunto tunes that seemed just right, especially Mexico Americano. (Max didn’t dedicate it to Trump this time, but by that time the beer seemed to be flowing pretty good amongst the crowd.)

All of this earned Los Texmaniacs, Augie, Flaco, and Johnny multiple standing ovations. And deservedly so.

Every time I leave a Texmaniacs gig I ask myself:  Can they get any better? This was my third time seeing them this year and the answer is a resounding YES! Let’s hope promoters keep bringing them back to Houston. Perhaps as an opener for The Mavericks when they come to town again. (One can dream, right?)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, y’all!

Local Leaders Reinforce Houston as Welcoming City

onaic300Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced the creation of the Office of New Americans, an office which will assist immigrants and refugees with services that will help with their integration into their new hometown. By looks of the website, it is more of a clearinghouse of information, and that’s a good thing.

The Mayor reiterated Houston’s commitment to being a Welcoming City, stating that a task force he created on immigrant communities is developing best practices on how to address the needs of the immigrant community. To the community he said he has their backs.

“Many members of our community are living in fear and asking whether they will continue to have a place in our great city,” said Mayor Turner. “I want all of our residents, including immigrants and refugees, and people of all faiths, to feel safe and protected.  The Houston that existed before the November election is the Houston that still exists today.  We will not tolerate violence or criminal activity against anyone.  Houston is going to remain a city where all are welcome, where neighbors look out for one another and where we are proud of our diversity.”

He passed the mic over to new Houston ISD Superintendent Carranza who stated that schools will not be where immigration raids take place. Citing past Supreme Court decisions, he strongly reiterated that all students have a right to a free education.

Carranza went on to list some of the tasks they have worked on to show their commitment:  Distribution of immigrant rights fact sheets; Hosting a DREAM Summit to provide college and financial aid information to parents and students; and utilizing teachers to distribute information to encourage open discussion on political topics; and a January 4 informational phone bank to assist immigrant families.

Finally, Carranza stated that public schools are not in the immigration enforcement business and that they do not track student immigration statuses. “We will see you in school every single day.”

Chief Art Acevedo encouraged the immigrant community to work with HPD in reporting crimes and facts of crimes without fear of deportation or detention. Acevedo stated that HPD is in place to fight crime and their singular goal is to go after those who do wrong. In Spanish, he stated, “No somos agentes de inmigracion,” or, “We are not immigration agents.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and State Senator Sylvia Garcia also addressed the press conference ensuring constituents that they would stay strong in the fight against bad anti-immigrant policies. State Rep. Gene Wu stated that “we will not be divided and that we stand as one.”

Councilmembers Laster and Gallegos also reflected on the diversity of Houston as a source of strength, stating that they will continue to be of service to the immigrant community. Laster’s is the most ethnically diverse council district, while Gallegos’ is a strongly Latino-populated district. “Everyone will be heard and respected,” stated Laster.

I was unable to attend, but thanks to a couple of buddies and KHOU, I was able to watch the live feed. At the tail end of the press conference, there was a bit of back and forth regarding sanctuary cities, but as feeds go, they were sort of going kaput. Needless to say, Sanctuary Cities will be a major issue in Texas in the Legislature. Dan Patrick has committed to passing Senate Bill 4, a bill to ban sanctuary cities. Will Houston utilize its lobbying pros to try to knock that bill down? (At least, that’s what I would have asked.)

[Here’s a cold, hard fact:  While it is easy to commit to protecting children of immigrants from raids and rhetoric, their parents have just as big, if not bigger, target on them and deserve protection, too.]

From the looks of online reactions, many left the press conference feeling good about Houston and what they had just heard. The fact of the matter is that there are real battles ahead which require political leaders at all levels to take a stand against anti-immigrant policies. But as my friend Cesar Espinosa of FIEL called the Mayor’s new initiatives, “it’s an important first step.”

We’ll keep an eye on things. And, thank you, Houston leaders, for stepping up.

Mayor Turner Signs DACA Letter to Trump; Will Announce Welcoming City Effort

turnerThere’s been a soft grumble regarding what some activists call a lack of attention by Mayor Turner and the City of Houston’s commitment to keeping the city’s law enforcement out of the immigration enforcement business in this new era of Trump.

The recent hiring of HPD Chief Art Acevedo and the recent signing of a letter by many big city mayors, including Turner, asking soon-to-be President Trump to protect DACA beneficiaries from deportation, have provided somewhat of a signal of where the Mayor stands. During his stint in Austin, Chief Acevedo spoke out against the use of 287(g), an immigration enforcement tool for local law enforcement agencies.

While speaking out against 287(g) as a law enforcement leader brings a little comfort, the DACA letter only represents the protection of less than 800K young people nationwide from deportation. Of course, with 287(g) still in play, so is the opportunity for racial profiling and immigration round-ups. Activists want to see more from local governments given Trump’s standing on deportations.

Since election day, many city mayors have come out against 287(g) and the federalizing of local law enforcement, including some of Texas’ large cities. Specifically, they have stated they would not cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Locally, incoming Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been vocal, as well.

Local government leaders around Texas are now facing the threat of losing state funding if they remain “sanctuary cities.” Greg Abbott has now threatened universities who have committed to providing a sanctuary from immigration enforcement. The threat against Latinos and immigrants in Texas because of Republicans’ threat of legalized racial profiling and funding cuts is very real. The fear, also, is very real.

According to the Mayor’s public schedule, he will be announcing a community effort to reinforce Houston as a “Welcoming City.” Texas Organizing Project is promoting the Monday morning, December 12, event on Facebook to be held at 9AM at NCI Baker-Ripley Chase Opportunity Center, 6500 Rookin, 77074.

Stay tuned.