Tag Archives: comprehensive immigration reform

Just Another DACA Tease?

There was so much excitement after the announcement by Pelosi and Schumer that they had somehow forged an “agreement” with Trump on making DACA the law of the land.

Me? Well, I was immediately cynical.

First of all, the “agreement” was only announced by the Dems. Secondly, it included “massive border security” notions, which, when left unexplained makes one think of National Guard troops on the border, or worse, Trump supporters in ill-fitting fatigues and with even bigger guns than the Guard. Without any real explanation, it’s hard to get excited. Of course, the “no wall” provision really excited the progressives. It made me even more cynical.

It didn’t take long for the Trump administration to tamp down the excitement with a strong push for “massive border security” before (emphasis on BEFORE) anything looking like DACA was discussed. Paul Ryan announced a ridiculous program based on hate, today. Of course, me seeing Schumer involved only made me remember his love for the private prison lobby and their money. Again, cynical.

Basically, the Democrats went in trying to save 800,000 young people in exchange for “massive border security.” Did the Democrats, again, go into a negotiation offering Trump the most for the least? You know, because we’re only talking about humans, here.

Remember, Obama did this when he negotiated “comprehensive immigration reform” and started with a mass deportation program to convince the other side that Dems were tough. A deporation program whose removal records Trump and his ilk want to break in stellar fashion. Over 2,000,000, including a vast many who had not committed any deportable offenses, would never be enough for Republicans. So “massive border security” will win us 800,000?

The problem with starting a negotiation with the least you can get is that the other side will cut it down, or demand “massive border security.” And as Trump reminds his supporters, the wall will come, anyway. While Trump plays politics in his way, the Democrats don’t seem to be standing up to him on this issue.

Soon after Trump ended DACA, I read a lot of Facebook whitesplaining telling immigrant advocates not to ask for more than what DACA offered. No consideration for the parents of DREAMERS. Or any of the other 10 million migrants. Avoiding any conversation about the entirety of the situation, including a broken system and corrupt human warehousing (private prison) program. Let’s just go with what we can win, they said. And, apparently, in exchange for “massive border security.”

My favorite advocates at United We Dream in DC aren’t too happy with the supposed DACADeal. From the beginning of this newest push for a DREAM Act, this group has been calling for the passage of a clean DREAM Act, and not one chock full of “massive border security” waste. They “disagree with the premise that one group of immigrants shound endure more pain for another group to get rights and protections.” I was hoping the Dems had noticed and followed their lead.

Thus far, Democrats aren’t listening. And Trump goes merrily along in his own evil way.

 

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The Undocumented Worker: Hated Until Needed

Some will point to Republican hatred toward immigrants since 2006, and others will point to Bill Clinton’s immigration act which created 287(g) and increased enforcement without fixing the system, but all of this time later, and after $150 billion in Harvey damage, now, there’s a freak-out over the target that hovers over the undocumented laborer who would be tasked with rebuilding Houston if everyone just looked away, especially Trump and his ilk.

All of this time later, various attempts at “comprehensive immigration reform” have failed because Republicans and some Democrats just had to show some artificial toughness to keep the bigoted happy. We’ll let in some people, but we’re going to triple the Mexican hunting police force (border patrol), federalize local cops, start a guest worker exploitation program, and build a fence. I’m all for give and take in a negotiation, but most CIR attempts, even Kennedy-McCain, bordered on ridiculous.

Nowhere along the way has there been much discussion of fixing a broken immigration system–fixing the “line” that everyone tells the undocumented to get to the end of. Nowhere along the way has there been much discussion about correcting US policy in Latin America that supports murderous right-wing regimes and US corporate interests, while attacking progressive leaders who want to provide basic necessities to the poor and indigenous–long ignored by the right-wing and wealthy. Yet, the blame only falls on the undocumented.

Now, you add a despot whose supporters hate Mexicans (and others) just for existing and, instead of looking at the human rights aspect of this, people think, “Who’s going to rebuild us?”

While I appreciate Lisa Falkenberg’s article about the undocumented rebuilding Houston, I’m still irked by the assumption by others that the only reason we need them (at this time) is for cheap, uninsured labor without worker protections. Especially when builders and contractors are the ones crying the loudest as they stand to make the most during the rebuild with this source of cheap labor.

It goes back to why we need more than just a DREAM Act. We need the parents of DREAMers and other workers who make up this exploited labor force, too. They must be protected. They must be paid what they’re worth. They must be insured and have worker protections from bosses who will exploit them during these times. Because, suddenly, it seems they’re not “taking someone else’s job;” they are filling open jobs, if we let them.

As Falkenberg stated:

But honesty takes only mere seconds. Enough with the hypocrisy. We need these workers. Right now, they’re digging Houston out of the worst flood in American history. The least we can do is offer them a path out of the shadows.

 

 

Cities Thumb Nose at SCOMM; ICE Review Almost Done

If you haven’t seen the news lately, well, it looks like state and local law enforcement agencies are telling President Obama and ICE that they will no longer be a part of his premier deportation program, Secure Communities. Over the President’s tenure, around 2,000,000 people have been deported–the vast majority because of low-grade crimes or no crime at all.

Today, the city of Philadelphia announced they were out. Maryland Gov. (and some say 2016 hopeful) Martin O’Malley announced the same earlier this week. Some counties in Oregon, too. All of this while the Obama Administration has announced it is considering changes to its deportation policies; ground activists demand deportation reform; and warehoused humans are on hunger strikes because of how private prisons treat them.

Secure Communities and other programs like 287(g) were developed for the purpose of capturing and deporting major criminals. A demand for increases in deportations from Republicans and President Obama’s flawed thinking that increasing deportations and human warehousing in private prisons would earn him Republican support for comprehensive immigration reform has made a deeply flawed program even worse. People with usually undeportable crimes or no crime record at all have fallen into the deportation net, families have been separated, tax dollars have been wasted on human warehousing, and for the President, his promise to pass “CIR” in Term 1, Year 1 (and now Term 2 Year 5) has been a complete failure.

All of this said, Reuters reported that President Obama is just about set to announce the results of a review of ICE’s deportation policies.

In the coming weeks, an Obama-ordered review of deportation enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security is expected to conclude that certain steps should be taken to ensure that some immigrants who have not committed serious crimes should be allowed to remain in the United States, according to several sources familiar with the review.

Those steps could include shortening the time period an immigrant is considered “new” and therefore under increased scrutiny for deportation, deeper background checks of detainees in considering whether they should be deported, and protecting immigrants serving in the U.S. military from deportation.

That would fall short of demands from immigration advocates who have asked Obama, among other things, to expand his deferred action program that currently protects children brought to the country by their undocumented parents.

Whatever President Obama announces will certainly be attacked by Republicans, so, why not go further than this? Of course, this is just what is heard from insiders. I guess we should wait for the actual announcement. For now, I’m glad local law enforcement agencies are ridding themselves of the burden and flaws offered by Secure Communities.

New Tactic on CIR; Same Old Stuff from GOP

dreamIn the middle of primary election morning, it was reported that NCLR’s  Janet Murguia had changed her mind about President Obama, calling him “deporter in chief.” As I mentioned in a Facebook post, I figured she would lose White House dinner privileges–or at least be forced to enter through the kitchen, since she was so supportive of President Obama’s stance and pushed for the badly flawed Gang of 8 bill, S. 744.

Then Congressman Luis Gutierrez was up speaking on the floor of the House, using the same “deporter-in-chief” line. Later, I saw that Gang of 8 member Dick Durbin was now singing the same song on deportation. And even Chuck Schumer, who has supported the private prison expansion to warehouse immigrants, is suddenlly speaking up. What the heck is going on?

A lot of pro-migrant folks who had been pushing President Obama on stopping deportations were not all sold on the Gang of 8 bill, but were surprised, yet supportive, that Murguia had appeared to switch course. Me, not so much.

The thing is, Durbin, Gutierrez, Schumer, and Murguia have all been part of the  push to sell S. 744. Met with a direct “NO!” from the Republicans in the House, the frustrations of all involved have reached their limits, no doubt. But, still, they continue to push Boehner and the GOPers to no avail, and still push. But it is President Obama who they are also pushing to curb deportations–and now.

The Republicans, though, made a mistake. They called out President Obama as being weak on “enforcing immigration law.” Well, they seemed to have walked right into something. Pro-migrant supporters can now utilize the whole “deporter-in-chief” line as a means of proving the Republicans wrong because the bottom line is that the Republicans are wrong. President Obama is the deporter-in-chief who holds the keys to the deportation buses that have deported almost 2,000,000 people. Sure, Boehner and his Republicans re-fuel those buses, but they have made it quite clear that 2 million is not enough. If anything, they won’t be happy until 50 million are deported–including Latino-American citizens.

Today, House Republicans supported a measure that would virtually end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has benefited over 500,000 applicants, all because President Obama signed the executive order.

House Republicans said passing the bill was necessary because the president had shown an unwillingness to enforce the law and a desire to go around Congress,including through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NEV) said that that the bill is “dead on arrival.”

Blame Obama for his deportation program or not, it is pretty obvious where the Republicans stand on immigration reform or deportation programs. If anything should help those who support immigration reform make a decision on Election Day, it is this.

In the mean time, it is time for President Obama to end his deportation program with his pen and his phone.

For the latest polling on deportations, click here.

Ted Poe Gets Double Dose of CIR Push

Today at the University of St. Thomas, faith and community leaders held a panel discussion to discuss the urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform. Moreover, the target of the discussion was Congressman Ted Poe and other Texas delegation members.

Dr. Robert Ivany, President of the University of St. Thomas, spoke to our individual obligations as engaged citizens and the university’s obligation as a Catholic institution. 

“Here in Houston, the lack of comprehensive immigration reform confronts us daily. We are honored to host this forum to address our duty as responsible citizens and as faithful Catholics who are committed to the fair and just treatment of our community.” 

Scott Braddock, known for dynamic interviews with politicians and activists from across the political spectrum, moderated the discussion and urged the diverse set of panelists to describe the impact of America’s broken immigration system on Houston and the costs of Congress’ current inaction.

“A sensible immigration bill is vital for our city, state, and nation,” said Stan Marek, a leading figure in Houston’s business community and President and CEO of the Marek Family of Companies. “An estimated 2.1 million undocumented reside within our Texas borders and it’s time they were brought out of the shadows. Too many are working in low paying jobs and in a sense being held hostage because of their status. We need to demand now that our members in the House take seriously their obligation to pass a bill into the Conference Committee.” 

Bringing to bear the teachings of their respective faith traditions, prominent pastors from diverse backgrounds echoed the call for comprehensive immigration reform and demanded an end to the exploitation of aspiring Americans. 

“Every day, Houston pastors encounter children and young adults whose families have been torn apart by America’s failed immigration system,” said  Senior Pastor Tim Moore of Walk Worthy Baptist Church. “We will not be silent while these anti-family policies wreak havoc in our communities. We urge Rep. Poe and fellow members of Texas’ Congressional delegation to examine the tenets of their faith and give us a vote on comprehensive immigration reform with an earned pathway to citizenship.” 

Seeing firsthand the impact of Houston’s broken immigration system on local families and parishioners, Pastor Diane McGehee , Director of the Center for Missional Excellence at Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, said  “We need Congress to pass immigration reform right now that protects immigrant families and workers, and includes a path to citizenship. The system we have right now is broken, hopelessly complex, and devastates hard working immigrants who come here to build a better life for themselves and their families. Even I, a licensed attorney, can’t navigate it without help and great expense. We can and must do better. How we treat our fellow human beings as made in the image of God is central to our faith as Christians.”

Bob Price, a well-known political commentator and blogger for TexasGOPVote, said “Immigration reform can no longer be ignored by our government. If we are to be a nation of laws, our laws must be just, and they must serve the needs of our people, our families and our communities.  This is the right time for us to move forward on this issue and solve a problem that has been haunting us for many years.” 

As the immigration reform movement continues to gain steam in Houston and across the United States, Members of Congress need to act now to reform our broken system. Eleven million aspiring American citizens must not be trapped in the shadows any longer, and immigrant families must be freed from the constant threat of being torn apart. The faith, business, labor and law enforcement communities stand united and will not rest until our neighbors, parishioners, customers, students, and friends are brought out of the shadows and given the opportunity to fully engage in America’s economy and democracy. 

Given that Ted Poe has been under pressure from both sides of the issue after a FoxLatino.com article mentioned Poe had “softened” on the issue, perhaps even being open to supporting a path to citizenship, the Chron continued adding to the storyline with an article by Rob Paral.

A new analysis of immigration trends and demographic composition of U.S. House districts shows that many Republican congressional districts have emerging electorates that care deeply about immigration reform.

Many Republican representatives will see their constituency profiles evolve in the coming years. Asian and Latino youth and newly naturalized U.S. citizens will make up 34 percent of newly eligible voters in 55 Republican-held congressional districts.

Take for example Republican Rep. Ted Poe, of Texas’ 2nd Congressional District. The district, which includes parts of Houston and eastern and northern suburbs, is more than half white. But come time for the 2014 elections, nearly 51 percent of all the newly eligible voters in his district will be either recently naturalized immigrants or Asian or Latino youth who turned 18 before the election and will be eligible to cast a ballot.

The political realities of 2012 are hitting many Republicans in the face, as of late. While some on the “blue” side of things have been awaiting the demographic changes to come through to effect victories, Paral seems to think that once this occurs, the effects will not stop.

This is not a one-time event. The impact stretches across future election cycles and its influence grows over time.

Like I’ve stated, I’m not a fan of S.744 or the Border Militarization. Much of what is in the bill has been written to appease Republicans like Ted Poe and others who are beginning to see the realities of the future of Texas. Unfortunately, I’m thinking that the GOP is just too damn pig-headed to even support a bad bill like S.744 just for face-saving purposes.

 

Drones, Floating Bodies, and Border Security

Thanks to the good folks at Kingwood Area Democrats for featuring my lawyer-sister Toni Medellin and myself on the issue of immigration reform last night. While Toni provided some legal and legislative background, I did more of a political talk, while also delving a little deeper on the realities offered by Senate Bill 744. I can tell you this much, it wasn’t a talk in line with what Democrats in DC are selling the people of the US of A.

It seems like both political sides continue their individual mantras of support vs opposition. (I mean, just check out Rep. Weber’s description of immigrants in this video.) Dems and pro-migrant  folks (and John McCain) talk about the political ramifications of CIR if the GOP doesn’t support it, or the economic impact of CIR, with the hopes that the other side will have some surprise buy-in. Frankly, it has tired me out, especially when our political leaders say S.744 is “not perfect,” yet should be he law of the land. The reality is that S.744 is as imperfect as they come–all sections of it. My colleague Dr. Rey Guerra began a series yesterday where he will be breaking apart S.744.

I have yet to hear from any Democrat or national “pro-migrant” group that has bought into the worst of S.744, the $46 billion border surge, a good reason to support S.744, as is. I mean, besides the selling point that it’s the only way Republicans would support it. 68 votes in the Senate later and the House Republicans are showing how much they care, especially their leader, the Boehner. All this talk of bipartisanship as a result of the border surge is a grim reminder of the human realities of “border security.”

Even Rep. Michael McCaul found out the grim reality of “border security” when the body of a Honduran migrant floated by him on the Rio Grande during another one of his fact-finding missions.

“My colleagues and I saw first hand the tragedies of this border and the loss of life when we saw a body floating just a few minutes ago on this river,” McCaul said. “And that is a sad fact of this border.”

Instead of backing away from “border security,” McCaul chooses to double-down.

His measure describes a list of metrics that homeland security officials would have to report to Congress, which would be used to determine what sort of resources work and what is needed where.

“Fencing alone is not going to solve this problem, it’s got to be a comprehensive strategy, a variety of assets whether they be fixed towers, mobile towers, (Defense Department) assets from Afghanistan, aviation assets to see on the ground what’s happening,” McCaul said. “Only by doing that can we really calculate with metrics if we’re being successful.”

The record number of bodies found in all border sectors is an indication that “border security” kills. Again, I’m reminded of my friend Roberto Lovato’s article, “Breathing in Our Dead…” about his trip to the Pima County Morgue’s freezer.

In the fight to end border militarization and what activists in Tucson and other border states call the “border overkill” at the heart of comprehensive immigration reform, nothing in Tucson or anywhere else matches the persuasive power of the smells emanating from the stiff, dehydrated and decomposing dreams stored in white body bags…

Perhaps McCaul and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle should pay a visit to Pima County, AZ and take a whiff of the effects of that which they so adamantly want and support.

It can’t be that those “non-lethal” weaponized drones Del Bosque at the Texas Observer tells us about are the only answer.

Although the Republicans are very much practicing the art of delay and kill when it comes to immigration reform, this recess is an opportunity for immigration activists to lobby their members of Congress against border overkill and militarization, and perhaps a better path to citizenship. The horror which Chuck Schumer has created in pushing Corker-Hoeven can still be fixed if our elected officials would just show an ounce of leadership, rather than political expediency.

Pro-Migrant Poll on Latino Support for GOP Unrealistic

When it comes to polling anyone, it’s all in the question. Republican pollsters ask questions one way, Democratic pollsters ask another way, usually. Well, Latino Decisions’ recent poll on Latino support for Rubio, Bush, and Paul Ryan is quite disingenuous. 

While the 2016 presidential election is a full three years away many of the high profile Republican contenders are enmeshed in the immigration reform debate, and if Republicans demonstrate strong leadership on passing comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship possible candidates such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan could get strong support from Latino voters.  However if Rubio, Bush or Ryan distance themselves from the immigration bill and House Republicans defeat the measure none of the GOP candidates stands to improve on the historic Romney 2012 defeat among Latinos. [Full poll results here]

Latino Decisions and others have done other polling in the recent past about how Latinos feel about various issues, and when it comes right down to it, Latinos fall in line with Democratic Party-promoted policies on education, health care, and jobs/economy. So, why weren’t these polled voters reminded of the Rubio, Bush, and especially Ryan positions on those policies. Ryan (and Romney) was defeated in 2012 because of those positions.

It is obvious to me that the poll was created to put a scare into Republicans, but assuming that Latinos are solely single issue voters taints the poll. We are not.

On top of that, the current Latino political conversation has included the addition of the “border surge” to the bill which Rubio very loudly insisted be included or he would not play the game anymore. I won’t even go into Bush’s “fertile” remark. And, Ryan, well, he still wants to cut off our viejitos and viejitas from Social Security.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Latino Decisions. Recently, they even wrote up a defense of the Voting Rights Act backed up by science and numbers. So, I know they are capable of good work. But  this last poll goes against what we should be doing–educating and empowering Latino voters with facts. And especially about candidates.

Besides, we are seeing everyday that the GOP is not going to budge on immigration reform, and moreover, that the GOP has all but given up on the Latino vote. At least, that’s how it looks today.

Congressman Vela Resigns From Hispanic Caucus, Cites Border Surge

Apparently, someone seems to care about the militarization of the Texas border. Congressman Filemon Vela of Brownsville tendered his resignation from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to protest the so-called “border surge” that became the only reason Senate Republicans supported the Gang of 8 bill.

The first-term Brownville Democrat announced his decision to resign in a short email over the weekend following overwhelming Senate approval of the enforcement-heavy legislation.

Vela said he was concerned that the bill conditions a pathway to citizenship for people living in the country illegally on militarization of the border, including additional hundreds of miles of border fence.

“I hereby resign,” Vela said.

Vela is not the only border representative who has shown this kind of concern.

Other Texas lawmakers, including Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, have criticized enforcement measures in the Senate bill as wasteful measures that could hinder trade.

One would figure that Democrats would listen to Mexican American representatives who actually represent the area which would be affected by the “surge.”

There’s no doubt that the immigration bill is in danger of dying on the House side, either by amendment or simply by it being ignored in favor of more punitive “border security” measures which do not include any path to citizenship. Vela’s lone voice is sure to rattle the CHC a bit, but unless more voices are heard each side of the debate will go about its respective business.

Nonetheless, this blogger is glad someone spoke up.

 

Results of First CIR Mark-Up Session

The Senate Judiciary Committee began to take up the first group of amendments to the immigration reform bill (S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act) submitted by the Gang of 8. Thankfully, the group struck a few of the most idiotic and punitive amendments, including a Ted Cruz amendment that would make reform unattainable, with a call for operational control of the border of “over 100 percent” and tripling the number of Border Patrol agents to over 60,000.

(For perspective, the peak number of troops in Iraq was around 150,000–and that was a war zone, not a border crossing.)

I’m sure there are more bad amendments to be considered, as well as a few good ones. To check out the entire list of submitted amendments, one can visit here.

In DosCentavos news, today I shared the stage with attorney and sister Toni Medellin at the Harris County Democratic Party’s Brown Bag. Together, we discussed the legal and political aspects of the immigration bill and the process. It was a great discussion with Democratic activists–a discussion that will need to continue as we increase support for immigration reform.

I found some of the best play-by-play on the amendments done on the Facebook page of Reform Immigration For America. Keep checking it out for the latest.

Republicans Plan Hack Job on CIR

Well, it’s the month of May and all seems to be going as predicted regarding comprehensive immigration reform. While the Gang of 8 attempts to strengthen the bipartisan support for their grand plan–even after Boston–the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party, including the policy hacks at the Heritage Foundation, are announcing plans to derail the whole thing.

The committee will take up the legislation just days after the Heritage Foundation released a report that estimated that the measure, which would offer a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people already in the country, could cost taxpayers at least $6.3 trillion over time.

What no one is saying that the “cost” is factored into a time period of fifty (yes, 50) years, failing to take into account the economic realities of bringing millions out of the shadows. In other words, it’s just another racist fear tactic on the part of the right-wing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the plan the Gang of 8 is offering is a bad one. The billions more that will be spent on “enforcement” measures will be a boon to a few private corporations, private prisons, and drone manufacturers. But it is still amazing to see that, even with a bad plan, that Republicans are hell-bent on attacking Latinos. In the political sense, they are just not getting it.

So, expect the usual delay tactics, along with the GOP race-baiting where they throw around “illegal” and “amnesty.”

“The longer this legislation is available for public review, the worse it’s going to be perceived,” Mr. Sessions said Monday in a phone interview. “The longer it lays out there, the worse it’s going to smell. The tide is going to turn.”

It’s the tried and true way of Republicans killing legislation–delay it and add even more bad stuff to it until it dies.

Of course, the Democrats leave much to be desired on their “defensive” posture.

“The Judiciary Committee is going to be a good proving ground for our bill because the committee includes some of the Republican Party’s most vocal opponents of immigration reform,” Mr. Schumer said. “By honing our responses to their criticisms, and perhaps even accepting some suggestions for improvement, our compromise will be all the more battle-tested when it hits the floor.”

Reminder:  Local immigration attorney, Toni Medellin, will be speaking on the topic of immigration law and policy on Thursday, Noon, at the Harris County Democratic Party’s Brown Bag. I’ll be joining in to speak on the politics of the whole thing.