Tag Archives: immigration

LULAC Retracts Trump Letter; Questions Remain

NBC News has reported that LULAC National President Roger Rocha was planning on retracting his letter to El Cheeto which supported his anti-immigrant agenda. The letter went so far as to support “the four pillars” of Trump’s plan, which included a border wall, border militarization, and familiy separation.

In a lengthy article, LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes (he led the effort that supported right-wing Latino Miguel Estrada for a judicial appointment in 2003, by the way) stated that LULAC’s national assembly voted to support a more progressive immigration agenda, including a “Clean DREAM Act,” no border wall, opposition to immigrant warehousing in private prisons, and local cops acting as immigration agents.

What was disturbing is that Rocha stated that he was asked by “business leaders” known as the Latino Coalition to write the letter. This group is a supporter of right-wing conservative causes, such as opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), support of Social Security privatization, and promotion of bad trade deals that exploit workers in Latin America. Issues in which LULAC and Latinos, generally, do not fall in line.

The funniest line:

Wilkes said the letter “was never intended to go public.” Rocha “didn’t anticipate it would be shared with members of Congress,” he said.

Because they didn’t anticipate Trump salivating over having some Hispanic lackeys to push his bigoted agenda, thus spreading the word about it?

Anyway, there was membership backlash all around, which has now caused Rocha to say he would retract the letter. How that is done without sending a powerful message that the group–which according to Rocha is the only group being allowed into the White House immigration discussion–does not back Trump on his framework, I don’t know.

At least, that’s what I hope members would demand.

LULAC is a membership-driven organization. It’s elaborately broken down into local councils that do much good work, such as scholarships, leadership development, promotion of higher education, etc. State organizations are broken into districts. And once a year, they assemble for a national convention which is quite the con-fab. Leaders are elected, most times controversially, and a legislative agenda is set for the organization to have some pull at the various levels of government, among other stuff they work on. That’s the elevator description.

So, it’s easy for me to say that I’m not a member, although I did do my time in the group in a council we called “The Cesar Chavez Council” during my college days. And I still support a few of their local causes. Me and my cohorts always thought of the group as too tame, if not conservative, but having it as a tool to push legislation and create leaders from the grassroots, we made it our own–not always to the liking of state and national leaders. And this usually came up during state and national conventions. Ahh, memories.

So, again, I’m not surprised that a screw-up like this would occur. But members and leaders need to grab hold of this organization if they want to be relevant at the national level as a group that fights for people’s rights, and not for border wall contracts for conservative “business leaders,” or for whatever reason the Latino Coalition support Trump’s wall.

As far as questions remaining, one needs to ask why Rocha would involve LULAC in a group like Latino Coalition that is very anti-Latino in its agenda.

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#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.

Still Seeking Statewide Democrats

As Greg Abbott announces his re-election campaign, Democrats are still left wondering who will carry the Donkey flag in 2018 for governor and the other statewide offices. News came out that a Dallasite has announced a run in the Dem primary to take on Abbott, Jeffery Payne.

What caught my eye:

he also opposes the new state law banning sanctuary cities.

While he supports increasing border security, he says those who are in the U.S. illegally should be placed on a path to citizenship.

He got two out of three there. As I’ve always said, never sound like a Republican and “increasing border security” sounds quite Republican. My question to Payne is, what the hell does “increasing border security” even mean?

In a state race like this one, does it mean he supports the DPS border surge which has been all waste, all fear-mongering, and all border militarization? State police border enforcement is OK, but not SB4-type local police enforcement?

Or is he talking about supporting federal efforts, like Trump’s border wall? Or added militarization on the border, except with the national guard?

Or is he just trying to gain a few conservative votes? Ask the last Dems who ran for governor how that went for them, then seek some clarity.

Now, if he is against the sanctuary cities ban, he’s not a bad guy. but seeking “balance” on an issue in which the Republicans have been completely hateful and divisive isn’t necessarily the correct response.

The better response may be to simply call out the hundreds of millions in waste and fear caused by Abbott and his DPS border surge. The increase in crimes not investigated by DPS. The increase of DPS traffic tickets in the Valley. The lack of crime reporting by immigrants and a Latino community that distrusts the police. The travesty of deaths on the border under a hot Texas sun caused by these militarized efforts. Or, the fact that all of this is a political ploy to keep Texans in fear, blaming others, for the problems caused by the Republicans.

We’ve got a lot of material to work with just on this one issue. “Increasing border security” will never be believable to those who vote based on fear and/or hate.

I recently wrote about recent calls for the move to “centrism” as a means of making some anti-immigrant policies acceptable to Democrats. I hope this isn’t the advice our statewides will pay for in 2018.

As West Wing’s Leo McGarry told Jed Bartlet, “Because I’m tired of it – year after year after year after year, having to choose between the lesser of ‘who cares?'”

 

Coward Abbott Signs Mexican Profiling Law (SB4)

trumpfamilycrossing950Or, he’s outlawed brown skin. Whatever you want to call it, SB4 calls for allowing local law enforcement to racially profile anyone who looks Mexican and question their citizenship. It is also called the “anti-sanctuary cities” law. The law is scheduled to take effect September 1, but legal challenges will hopefully delay it and kill it.

Senate Bill 4 makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders subject to Class A misdemeanor charges if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates who are subject to deportation. It also provides civil penalties for entities in violation of the provision that begin at $1,000 for a first offense and climb to as high as $25,500 for each subsequent infraction. The bill also applies to public colleges.

The final version of the bill included a controversial House amendment that allows police officers to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment, as opposed to being limited to a lawful arrest.

In cowardly fashion, Abbott picked a Sunday afternoon when the targeted communities are usually resting before heading back to the work-week. Abbott also invoked a California crime committed by an immigrant in defense of targeting all brown-skinned people with this law.

Made a legislative priority by Greg Abbott and pushed by the Republicans in the Texas Legislature, SB4 was supported by Republicans and strongly opposed by Democrats. In fact, Democrats put up a good fight and pro-migrant activists showed up to oppose Republican’s bigoted efforts in huge numbers when the measure was taken up in committees and by the House and Senate.

“Governor Abbott signed SB4 on a Facebook live while immigrant families all across Texas were spending time with their loved ones. We condemn this action and we will continue to fight for our families and our communities.  We are here to stay and continue to make Texas the amazing state is is because immigrants built this nation.” Cesar Espinosa Executive Director FIEL.

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More to come.

Sheriff Gonzalez Ends 287(g)

trumpfamilycrossing950As the Trump regime continues its onslaught against Mexicans and other Latinos, immigrant and citizen, with a steroid-laden immigrant hunting plan, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has ended its 287(g) agreement with ICE, citing a burden on resources and the need to place resources out in the field.

The withdrawal of the sheriff’s deputies will still allow ICE officials to come to the jail and screen jail inmates to determine their immigration status and the county will hold them for deportation if requested, Gonzalez said.

The sheriff said serious overcrowding in the county jail complex, where staff shortages have hiked overtime costs to $1 million every two weeks, has forced him to deploy his ICE-trained deputies elsewhere. He said his decision was not political “but an issue of resources,” explaining the deputies may also be assigned to help improve clearance rates of major crimes or ad to the patrol division.

“After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of the voluntary 287(g) program,” said Gonzalez, who sent ICE officials notification of his decision Tuesday. “We’ll still be cooperating with local, state and federal authorities as we always have, we just won’t have our manpower resources inside the jail doing that.”

The thing about local jails is that they’ve usually had the ability to report immigration detainers  that pop up on the national database so that ICE can pick up folks at their own discretion and with their own use of resources (other than local jailers). 287(g), which was always a voluntary program, used local resources to exclusively work on increasing deportation numbers in quicker fashion, including low-grade offenders who were not targets for deportation.

Of course, this was evident during the Obama era which broke deportation records, and counties like Harris and Arizona’s Maricopa were among the leaders in helping increase deportation numbers, while Congress did nothing to fix a broken immigration system. It wasted resources and was purely a political tool for whomever was in office at any level. Let’s face it, it became part of Obama’s push for “comprehensive immigration reform” as a possible dealmaker to offer Republicans. It didn’t work, obviously. Because it was in place, it also caused stress for good elected officials who wanted to rid their agencies of the flawed program, but had to deal with threats from right-wing elected officials.

For Sheriff Gonzalez, who also recently provided a statement against Senate Bill 4, the so-called anti-sanctuary city bill currently in the Texas House, he will have to deal with the ire of right-wingers like Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and some of the members of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. Gonzalez, though, has the right idea. His decision is all about resources and public safety, while the Republican and Trump plans are all about fear and hate. And that should be the narrative of this debate.

This decision has been a long time in coming. This blogger had quite a few debates with the previous Democratic Sheriff Adrian Garcia about 287(g). And his Republican replacement was pretty much useless on the issue. Unfortunately, the Trump regime is hell-bent on hunting Mexicans and others. And even a lack of 287(g) will still leave an open door for Trump and his immigrant hunters at local jails. Add SB4, if Texas House Speaker Straus allows it to move forward, and local law enforcement could still be a part of the terror.

What people must understand is that we are in a whole different era. The same “bipartisan” rules no longer apply. Given Trump’s attitude, not even civil discussion. The right-wing, anti-immigrant members of Congress and state elected officials we dealt with in the past now have a leader to do everything they’ve ever wanted. And Republicans (and Democrats) who simply sit back and say nothing are just as bad, or worse, than those we’re dealing with today. Hate is hate. It cannot be defended.

The political implications are enormous, though. And 2018 is right around the corner. Republicans are useless, but Democrats still could rebuild into something with a spine, especially on immigration, detention, and deportation issues. It’s the one issue that they’ve felt useful for campaigns, as if they were actually going to attract bigoted votes in gubernatorial elections (2014). Instead, it demoralizes voters–base voters. Even voters like me, lifelong Dems, who have felt a need to skip around candidates during the last decade because they’ll say something stupid on immigration, or on child refugees from Central America, feel disconnected with the Democrats. Something’s gotta give.

For now, though, things seem ominous, even with a victory like ridding Harris County of 287(g) (Kudos to United We Dream-Houston). Trump’s new immigrant hunting plan expands the targets to include many more undocumented immigrants than the Obama era. Whether Trump sends out deportation forces or not, the fear is unsettling and certainly destabilizes communities and local economies. The Republican intent has never been about public safety, but about hate.

It’s time for ALL to fight back, and for the fight not to be left only to the immigrants under attack. Stand for all!

 

 

 

I Guess That’s Why They Call It Marketing

84-lumber-1-e1486347383327Ever since January 20, or maybe November 8, Americans have been trying to find meaning or hope in just about anything. And the Super Bowl was definitely in play.

The anti-Trumpistas were rooting for Atlanta. Hope was sought out from Coca-Cola, AirBNB, and even Audi regarding various issues. Hell, Gaga blew the roof off (or at least opened the roof ) of NRG Stadium. Then there was Journey84, the 5 minute 45 second ad by 84Lumber.

The shorter TV edition was poignant, showing a mother and daughter on a journey to the United States to seek something. For sure, they were escaping something, too. Soon after, there was internet chisme about Fox Sports not allowing parts of the ad or more of the ad. Some thought of the business ramifications of a corporation using this kind of ad on a hot topic. Then one finds the entire ad on YouTube (if the Journey84 site wasn’t working) and then you get a clearer picture.

No doubt, with Trump’s policies, emotions are high, especially on the pro-migrant side. People are marching and protesting policies. So, as the long-ad runs, one is really getting into it. Then as the journey continues, the mother and daughter run into Trump’s wall. A little bit more and there are two beautiful wood doors (wood available at 84Lumber, for sure). For me, it brought a quick memory of the Trump narrative.

But as a consolation, which we suppose counts as a new policy proposal, Trump said he would build a “big beautiful door” in the wall to let in legal immigrants.

No surprise, 84Lumber was attacked by Republicans and white supremacists for letting the door open to migrants. Brown-colored migrants. The 84Lumber’s PR machine began to work. And it sounded like the tried-and-true right-wing narrative where they take a solid opposition to “illegal” immigration and support “legal” immigration, without much of plan of action to fix the “legal” immigration system. And they certainly aren’t for cartels!

See a mother & daughter’s symbolic journey toward becoming legal American citizens.

So, apparently, the beautiful doors stand for US Citizenship and Immigration Services? (You know, where the “back of the line” everyone talks about is?)

The ad campaign would have been more sincere if it had exhibited what the “legal” immigration system looks like today. Decades long backlogs and slow processing times and increased fees in large part are what make the “back of the line” Republican narrative a lie. And with Trump’s policies of walls and deportations, I don’t think the Trump-supportive CEO of 84Lumber really cares about anything regarding migrants. It’s all about their bottom line and their recruitment policies.

But, wow, was that a good ad, right?

There’s a reason corporations spend $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime on Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s not to change bad public policies. If that were the intent, they’d give the money to ACLU, Planned Parenthood, MALDEF, etc. It’s about a return on their investment and nothing else. And if they do it by capturing your heart and mind, and you’re OK with no change in public policy for the better, well, they got you.

Of course, I’m not sure playing both sides of the issue is smart business. It could be that they just wasted $5 million.

 

 

Rio Grande Valley: Immigration and LGBTQIA+ Organizing

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Credit: UWD

Are you interested in learning on how you can get involved with immigration and LGBTQIA+ organizing in the Rio Grande Valley? Join Aquí Estamos for a free comprehensive immigration training! The training will be facilitated by United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth network in the U.S.!

We know that immigration is an issue that deeply impacts the Rio Grande Valley, but finding an LGBTQ safe space to get involved can be difficult. Aquí Estamos is creating this space for LGBTQ persons (and allies, of course) to become knowledgeable on this topic and find the resources they need. Even if you have never worked on immigration before, we encourage you to join us to get started. Here are the event details:

Saturday, February 20th 10:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m. 
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
STAC 1.101
1201 W. University Drive
Edinburg, TX 78539
(Click here to campus map)

At the training we will cover:

  • An overview of DACA, Expanded DACA, and DAPA
  • Opportunities for organizers and non-legal volunteers in implementation
  • How to engage participants at info sessions and clinics
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law. How to avoid it, How to report fraud
  • Organizing opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley on LGBTQIA+ and immigration

Other sweet details:

  • We know it’s hard to get around the RGV, so transportation may be available upon request (Email dani@aquiestamosrgv.org for details.)
  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided
  • Coffee and tea available throughout entire training
  • Did we mention it’s a completely free training?

Don’t miss this opportunity! Space is limited.

 

Clinton Changes Mind, Obama Deportations Were Harsh

Hillary-Send-Them-Back-ClintonAfter defending Obama’s deportation policies for so long, Hillary Clinton has conveniently admitted that they were actually harsh. Clinton stated the reason for Obama’s hardheadedness:

“The deportation laws were interpreted and enforced, you know, very aggressively during the last six and a half years, which I think his administration did in part to try to get Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform,” she said. “That strategy is no longer workable. So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”

Some of us have argued from Day 1 that it was never workable and that there was a better chance of getting Latinos engaged on the issue if we went for broke on the issue–fighting for the best reform possible. Instead, we have theatrical gridlock, a pissed off Latino electorate, and, unfortunately, the same politicians vying for the Latino vote.

Sure, the Republinuts will pounce on this as a flip-flop (I call it primary politics), but that means they’d have to defend Obama’s 2,000,000 deportations, right? No doubt, Republicans are the worse, but it’s about time Democrats were better than usual, don’t you think?

It seems too many people on both sides of the aisle want to have it both and all ways. Some Dems want the Latino vote, while Republicans want a cheap Latino workforce. Either way, Latinos get kicked around and the issue gets kicked into the future, as always.

And just a reminder, there wasn’t much mention of Central American children escaping violence and poverty whom Clinton wants to deport without due process.

Poll: 25% of Latinos Are Clueless, Self-Hating Trump Supporters?

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Credit: Lalo Alcaraz/GoComics

While the media is selling the latest poll of Latino thoughts on Donald Trump as “75% having a negative view.” I’m pretty concerned about a quarter of those polled being accepting of Trump’s message; not surprised, but concerned, as they could easily accept the usual GOP message on Latinos and immigrants. Given recent elections, they probably have accepted the GOP message.

More specifically, the poll found the following:

Asked to assess that comment (about immigrants being rapists and drug dealers), 55 percent of Latinos said that the remarks were “insulting and racist and have no place in a campaign for president.”

Another 29 percent said that “Trump should have been more careful with the language he used, but he is raising an important issue.” Fourteen percent said that “Trump had the guts to say exactly what was on his mind about an important problem we need to deal with.”

A huge majority also found that Trump is hurting the GOP’s image. I would ask, “More than usual?” Let’s face it, the GOP has a “nice” way of insulting Latinos and immigrants, which probably coincides with the 29% who felt Trump should have said it differently. Be nice, but we still won’t vote for you, might be the message.

Frankly, what the poll found is not surprising. That Democrats, throughout this Trump media frenzy, have simply pointed and blamed on the issue is disappointing. This is an opportunity to lead on immigration reform, deportation reform, and immigrant warehousing (detention)–and that goes for Bernie, too–along with the rest of the issues in which Latinos poll strongly progressive. Whether Dems will wake up to this is still yet to be seen, so, here’s another opportunity.

Obama Talks Tequila, Immigration; Clinton Talks GOPs 2nd Class Status Position

Well, my friends at Latino Rebels are none too happy about the Cinco de Mayo shindig thrown by El Prez at the Casa Blanca today. They went so far as calling it Cinco de Fallo.

After celebrating Mexicans and Mexican Americans, President Obama made the usual call for comprehensive immigration reform–which version, it is not known. Within 5 minutes and change, he mentioned Tequila five times.

Wait, 5 minutes, 5 tequilas, 5 de Mayo–I see a pattern! That speechwriter is a genius! [snark]

Anyway, moving on.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being credited with an aggressive speech on immigration reform. What I heard was the usual call for comprehensive immigration reform which includes a path to citizenship. So, the usual.

What may be the aggressive part was Clinton making a distinction between what she and Democrats want (citizenship) and what Republicans want (legal status).

“Now this is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side,” she said. “Make no mistakes. Today not a single Republican candidate – announced or potential – is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one.”

“When they talk about ‘legal status’ that is code for second-class status,” she added.

She added that her time as Secretary of State showed her the difference of countries that include “second-class status.”

“They never feel they belong or have allegiance…that is a recipe for divisiveness and even disintegration… we are a nation of immigrants,” she said. “Those who say, we can do reform but not a path to citizenship, would be fundamentally undermining what has made American unique… not just in my view the right thing to do for America, if you compare us to other countries.”

And while she said she was unsure if it would be among her first moves if elected president, she did say it would be a priority.

And that’s probably the smartest political move she can make–no promises of first term/first year action like the aforementioned current Prez. But with Obama’s executive actions in place (hopefully) that would be a starting point that includes some deportation relief.

Clinton also seemed to deviate from her position from last summer about warehousing and deporting little kids. Maybe.

“I don’t think we should put children and vulnerable people into the detention facilities because I think they are at risk—their physical and mental health are at risk,” she said.

I don’t know if that means immediate deportation or what. Or if kids get to stay with moms and families outside of prison walls. We shall see how this develops.

Obviously, the issue is very complex and working with Republicans who offer a “status” that some may be willing to accept in order to avoid a prison cell and a bus ride to the border (even if it is second class status) will make the debate a lot more interesting–or, the same old debate.

And that’s today’s immigration news.