Tag Archives: DREAM Act

The DACA Decision Is Still Joe Manchin’s Fault


Back in 2010, President Obama and Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate. The DREAM Act, which had bipartisan support at one time, sailed through the House. When it arrived in the Senate, Democrats had enough of a majority (60) to pass it and it would likely be signed by Obama. Unfortunately, Joe Manchin and four other Dem Senators voted against it, as did all of the Republicans and the bill only achieved 55 of the 60 needed votes. Note: Manchin couldn’t even be bothered to show up, but was on record against it.

You can blame republicans all you want, but some of us have known their bigoted tendencies for a long time and haven’t been in denial about them.

They were quite evident in 2006 when the Sensenbrenner Act was being pushed by Republicans, along with REAL ID. And this challenge to DACA was brought on by Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott because they are just that hateful.

But FIVE (5) Democrats voted against the DREAM Act in 2010. They blamed their “tough to win” seats and the Democratic rank-and-file went along with it and defended their vote. Thus, by 2012, with no more majority and republicans dead-set against anything President Obama supported, the only thing that could happen was DACA–an executive order for which immigration activists lobbied and practically forced Obama’s hand after he continually denied he had the power to sign it.

DACA has provided over 600,000 DREAMers the benefit of prosecutorial discretion and deferred action, thus barring them from deportation. And for nine years, now, it has been challenged by republicans, in the courts and by Trump. They finally found a federal judge who would call it “illegal,” thus sending it back to Homeland Security to somehow make it right. In the process, all new applications are cancelled, but the 600,000 or so are safe, for now.

I don’t know how many more still need to apply or haven’t for a host of reasons (financial, etc.), but since the legality is now in question, it is worrisome and emotionally tiresome for many. Furthermore, all DACA has ever been is a loose band-aid that leaves young people in limbo, while continuing to expose their parents to deportation and politically-driven harrassment by ICE and similar agencies.

As some Democrats in the Senate have stated, it is high-time to pass the DREAM Act and/or comprehensive immigration reform. But we are in the same predicament as 2010: Hateful republicans and a slight Democratic majority in which a few (Joe Manchin and Kristen Synema) seem to be holding immigrants hostage. They will not make it easy to pass anything; if anything, I expect opposition to citizenship and DREAM-type bills from these two.

Filibuster reform would be great, if Manchin and Synema could be trusted to support immigration reform. With Manchin attending a fundraiser in Texas given by high-dollar republicans, I can’t say I’m hopeful of much; other than being hopeful that la lucha sigue (the struggle continues). Hopefully, Joe Biden will learn to wield power within his own party; which was something in which Obama failed miserably regarding immigration policy.

Finally, I would have hoped that over the last ten years, Democrats would have learned a lesson about using their power when they have it. The myth that is bipartisanship only seems to work when the issue is money in individual members of Congress districts for their own pet projects. If it’s about helping the least among us, it becomes a hot potato worthy of political exploitation. And both parties do it well, as Manchin has exhibited on a host of Biden goals.

Anyway, just food for thought as folks try to find someone to blame.

It’s Not Just The Wall That Is Up For Debate

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz

An article by MSNBC talking head Victoria Soto caught my eye. Basically, she states that Democrats should give away the proposed border wall for DACA. Of course, there is no mention of what else Trump and the Republicans want. Added militarization in the form of more border patrol, draconian changes to family reunification (called by Trump “chain migration”), and other changes to the visa lottery, at least. No, Trump doesn’t just want the wall–a monument to stupidity, as called by Luis Gutierrez–he wants blood.

I will agree with Soto that by making the shutdown about CHIP vs DREAMers, it pretty much became about competing ethnicities. While the vast majority of DREAMers are Latino, only 37% of CHIP beneficiaries are Latinos. And let’s face it, ZERO DACA kids are on CHIP (or even Obamacare). But, no, Democrats have wasted no time in Demsplaining it as a victory. Considering that it was funded for the next six years, it’s pretty obvious that Republicans would have supported it in the end. Republicans just found a good hostage on which Dems could pull the trigger.

In other words, a longer shutdown would not have hurt CHIP in the least.

Now, it’s like everything is starting from ZERO on DACA/DREAM. Republicans have control of the DACA/DREAM issue and will allow for some pretty awful amendments, whenever it is they decide to get to it. Along with the amendments will be plenty of time to vilify DREAMers, immigrants, and your run-of-the-mill American Latin@. Probably more racially charged Trump ads about murderers, drug runners and visa overstays as “criminal illegals” will hit our TVs.  Certainly, talking heads and Congress members instilling fear and hate and spreading it around the country. Over the last seventeen years, we’ve been through this process plenty of times as if it is a brand new issue.

No doubt, DREAMers are hard at work trying to convince members of Congress in both parties for a Clean DREAM Act through direct action. Perhaps some changes might be OK, but not wasteful crazy ones like a wall or changes to family reunification some have stated privately. I mean, if there’s going to be a drawn out process, then the DREAMers must get the opportunity to speak, too.

But for Soto and others to simply give away the wall as they have done when we have already been forced into a new process is a bit shortsighted. Firstly, you never want to be the “Latino for the wall.” And for Soto to write this piece as if nothing else is up for debate is a bit disingenuous. Schumer already offered up the wall with a measly $1.6 billion of funding–not even close to the $20 billion Trump wants. Dems can’t even give away the store right if they’re trying to paint some picture of uncooperative Republicans.

So, all that is left is a legislative process that has been promised by someone who doesn’t really keep his promises. I’m glad the DREAMers are still working hard because I don’t know how hard Congress members will push. And it might be a good idea for Democrats and the few “moderates” left on both sides to listen to them during this process. And help stop the madness by standing up to stupidity.

#TrumpShutdown Achieved, Now What?

As much as shutting down the government is an exercise to show Trump’s and Republican Congressional leadership’s ineffectiveness, I wanted to see where Democrats stand, too. And my hope is that the five Democratic Senators who voted to continue debate, thus pushing the stopgap measure forward without DACA or CHIP, isn’t an indication of what is to come for a DACA/DREAM fix.

The latest version of the #DeportationCaucus, Manchin, Donnelly, McCaskill, Heitkamp, and now, the new guy, Jones voted to support the stopgap bill last night. Manchin and Donnelly voted against the 2010 DREAM Act, McCaskill has run anti-immigrant re-election campaigns for votes but has supported DREAM Act in the past, Heitkamp has always been iffy on immigration, and Jones is showing fears of not getting re-elected in a few years. Some think a fix would have an easier, more bipartisan, time in the House.

It’s always been said that DREAM or DACA is a bipartisan issue, but when it comes right down to it, Senate Republicans have not come through. Last night, at least four of them did. Is this an indication of something? If it is, we’ll still need every single Democrat to seal the deal.

Obviously a clean DREAM Act is a lot harder to achieve. But as long as Trump and the Republicans’ starting point in negotiations is a wasteful wall and an end to family reunification, The DREAMers (and the Democrats) really don’t have to budge either. We know where the impasse begins. Republicans who want to move forward need to stop their leader’s bigotry and get the job done.

Meanwhile, 122 DACA beneficiaries lose their status everyday, despite the shutdown, Trump’s deporation force is still very much employed, and hate toward immigrants still exists. It’s really in the Republicans’ court to make the country move forward–at least for 800,000 of the 11 million undocumented folks.

A friend of mine called all of this “political theater.” Well, the political theater of immigration will still go merrily along if there is a fix to this. As always, we’ll deal with the theater. But let’s try to finish DACA/DREAM.

DREAMer Reform Delayed? My Confidence Wanes

If Democrats weren’t able to pass any kind of relief for DREAMers in 2010 with a legislative majority, did you really expect Republicans to do anything? According to a Politico article, the groundwork has been laid for a January vote, though.

The problem? They can’t do anything until Trump adds his sadistic ideas to the plan, like the wall, more migra, and other mean-spirited things that Kelly and others at DHS may come up with under the heading, “border security.”

So, cynical me thinks this is how things will go:

  • A pretty crappy DREAM Act will be created–enforcement heavy, relief for fewer than ever. (Remember when Dems were fighting for 11 million people and willing to give them everything?)
  • Dems will say no to such an unclean DREAM Act (right?). There will be shock at how Republicans are just bad and mean. (Some of us are desensitized to it, actually, at least those of us who are undeportable.)
  • Then the Dems will have it as an issue for them to campaign on, and run away from in those hard-to-win districts, in 2018.
  • By then, the March deadline to resolve this has passed and even more young people are out of DACA status and under threat of removal. (Let’s not forget that right now 122 DREAMers per day are losing their DACA status).

I’m just guessing, of course.

I’ll leave it to the DREAMers to tell me if they want what results from the negotiation in the end. It’s a gun to their heads, but not necessarily a gun to either party’s. I say this because even the new Dems being elected during special elections are acting kind of shifty on most issues, and not just this one, as if bipartisanship even exists anymore.

Maybe the Dems should up the ante and ask for a path to something for 11,000,000 once Trump starts adding his crap to the bill. It’s a negotiation, right? Hell, put up a fight. For the whole lot of us, it’s the fight that earns a politician respect.

As I mentioned previously, Democrats love the issue for the campaign trail. It’s great at conventions and the use of the issue can be left to those officeholders and candidates who can get the most use out of it–or the least use if it may cost them re-election.

The problem with that is that, once elected, the Democrats don’t even put up a fight. And those that want to fight are scoffed at by leadership (Pelosi and Schumer) who have other priorities, such as keeping things like the DREAM Act a campaign issue. In other words, even if the Dems gain a majority in both chambers again, my confidence in them doing something on this and the entire issue is still weak.

Perhaps they worry about Republicans taking credit for the issue while they are the majority. Hell, I wouldn’t worry. All the “bipartisan” talk has been just talk for Republicans. Dems give them too much credit. And for the vast majority of them, it will always be talk. They’re bigoted. They’re hateful. And their quiet “moderates” who fail to fight back are just as guilty of allowing the hate and bigotry. So, why not fight back when we’re down?

Seven DREAMers and allies protested at Schumer’s office last week. They all ended up in jail. And most are still in jail and soon at risk of deportation. They’re willing to put their lives on the line. No one seems to care, though. I’m pretty sure Democrats will blame them for fighting back and messing with their negotiations. Ain’t it always the way?

Yes, I’m cynical.

Garcia to Abbott: Clarify Your Stance On Texas DREAM Act

One of my favorite State Senators, Sylvia Garcia of SD6, challenged gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott today on his stance on the Texas DREAM Act. The law allows children of immigrants who meet certain residency requirements to go to Texas colleges and universities at the In-State tuition rate.

In anticipation of Greg Abbott’s campaign stop in Houston tomorrow, State Senator Sylvia Garcia asked Greg Abbott to clarify his positions on the Texas DREAM Act. When first pressed on the issue of the Texas DREAM Act, Greg Abbott said he did not have time to answer the question. Abbott later said the law was “flawed,” “needed to be reformed” and that it should be “fixed.”

“Greg Abbott can’t have it both ways. The Texas DREAM Act has allowed many kids in our communities to become the first in their family to go to college,” said Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia. “I’m astounded that a candidate for Governor would campaign on the fact that he’s trying to decrease opportunities for young Texans. He can’t use our community just for photo-ops.”

When Abbott campaigned in San Antonio last week, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro asked for clarification as well. “The Texas DREAM Act has allowed thousands of students to contribute to our community and state,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “Greg Abbott’s reckless proposals to undercut educational opportunities for Texas students would take our state backwards.”

Abbott is trying to be as right as possible while trying to be friendly to Latinos, which never works. He’s trying to “fix” something that isn’t broken, that works fairly well, and that expands opportunities, rather than decrease them (as Abbott seems to enjoy doing on a whole list of issues).

I remember the good ol’ days when right-winger Rick Perry signed the law, no questions asked. How did this law suddenly become a piñata for Republicans?

Kudos to the Senator!


One-Year of DACA

Last week, I had the honor of speaking to one of my favorite Democratic clubs, the Kingwood Area Democrats. While the Democratic/National Latino Organization narrative has been one of support for Senate Bill 744 (which sits idle in the U.S. House), the Republican narrative has been the same old negative vitriol.

The dissonance can be frustrating for those who truly support immigration reform. In the case of my visit to KAD, I chose to offer a little truth about Senate Bill 744–that not only is it not a perfect bill, as President Obama has told us, but it is quite imperfect. My colleague Rey Guerra also writes about this, and we look forward to posting the second part of his series on S.744.

No doubt, the one bright spot in the last couple of years has been Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order for DHS to defer the deportation proceedings of undocumented children. Some of these kids may otherwise qualify for a future DREAM type act. Unfortunately, Republicans have called it a “back-door Amnesty,” which it is not. And Democrats have compared it to the DREAM Act, which it definitely is not. (The Kingwood article in which I am quoted state DREAM Act, but I actually was talking about DACA in that instance).

All DACA does is bring these undocumented children out of the shadows, allowing them a work permit or the opportunity to continue their studies without fear of deportation for a two-year period. It is not a cure, it is not an amnesty,  it does not include any type of family reunification (the foundation of immigration in the US), and, there is one big problem.

The problem is that it is quite political in that many of those who were applying last year were literally praying for an Obama victory because there was no promise from Romney to continue the program. If anything Romney was non-committal and caught with his pants down with his whole “self deportation” scheme. And if immigration reform does not happen, what then? Pray for Hillary Clinton victory so that these kids can remain in limbo?

The result has been over half-a-million applicants for DACA, with over 70% of them having been approved. Only 1 percent have been denied for various reasons. The Brookings Institute provides some facts on DACA. Back to the political aspect of this, there are well over 800,000 children who may be DREAM-eligible, so that means a few hundred thousand have not applied for DACA, perhaps because of financial restraints or a preference for a more permanent plan like the actual DREAM Act.

What this proves is that an effective process of providing the 11 million undocumented a path out of the shadows toward legalization and ultimately citizenship is administratively possible. It would be a given with a better investment into the legal immigration system.

Instead, s.744 forces folks to the back of a line that doesn’t move, thus leaving people in a second class status. As I’ve stated before, it is currently a back of a line that does not move, and there isn’t much political determination to truly improve the infrastructure that would allow the line to start moving at a faster pace.

As my sister, Toni Medellin, states in her presentation, there are those in the “legal” immigration system being processed for a green card who applied back in 1992. This is not a working system; if anything, it is archaic and quite broken.

So, while many celebrate DACA and a temporary deferral of deportation proceedings, we must keep in mind that the bigger system under President Obama has already deported over 1.7 million immigrants. And this Congressional recess has around 40,000 more immigrants scheduled for deportation.

Let’s just contemplate that while we continue to break apart S.744. Because we are still of the opinion that America can do much better than what is being offered.



Thoughts on Viernes…02082013

Anchia, Coleman Push to Repeal Gay Marriage Ban

Read the report from K-T at BOR. Some will say, “It’s about time!” I’ll say, it’s always been time! It’s just that a majority of Texans were a bit dumb in 2005 when they voted to basically limit a group of people’s civil rights. When a state that loves to boast about its freedoms  takes basic rights from people, well, that state really loses a right to any claims. If it’s time for anything, it is time to remove the ban on same-sex marriages.

Polls show Texans have changed over the last seven or eight years, so, perhaps an election to get rid of the ban will do the trick. The thing is, it still needs to get through the Lege, which is still as right-wing as 2005, at times. This is still something worth fighting for.

DREAM Act as Momentum Builder?

Congress Members Luis Gutierrez, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Ileano Ros-Lehtinen are set to re-introduce the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill.

“This isn’t a substitute or a fall-back for [comprehensive immigration reform],” Lee said in an email. “The members are still strongly committed to passing a broad reform package. The strategy in introducing it now is to build on the momentum that already exists for immigration reform and to highlight the impact of our broken immigration system on the Dreamers and their families.”

Others, like Xavier Becerra, prefer to stay the course on CIR that includes DREAM. Frankly, it’s the DREAMers who have worked hardest on this effort, and if this builds momentum toward a broader CIR, then great. But I tend to think that Republicans will drop CIR and go back to their usual divisive ways for 2014 if DREAM-only is delivered to the President’s desk.

It’s one of those damned if you do/don’t moments. And as a friend of mine stated, it may just be about taking the “higher road of the real” given all the “new” debate on CIR that sounds like 2006.

Arizona Racially Profiles Tejano Music Legend

Yeah, my friend, Tejano Music legend and unapologetic Barack Obama supporter, Johnny Hernandez was racially profiled by Arizona highway patrol recently, and let me tell you, he’s pissed not happy! And with every reason in the world, too! When stopped, along with fellow recording artist, Valentina Estrada, the trooper stated it was “a routine check.” I guess since he routinely looks like a Mexican American, it’s ok, then? HELL NO!

Always a musician-activist since his days with his brother, Little Joe y La Familia, he’s no stranger to being involved. We have not heard the last of this legend, I’m sure. And he definitely has the support and back-up of DosCentavos.

FYI:  He’s putting the finishing touches to a new CD and it should be out soon. Stay tuned for a review right here!

Music Break – Arjona and Intocable – Mojado – EMI Latin