Tag Archives: special session

Abbott’s Border Boondoggle Continues

While Texas is on fire because of COVID-19 and Greg Abbott’s policies surrounding COVID-19, Abbott continues his border boondoggle, throwing money and resources at an issue which requires nuance and creativity to mitigate–mostly, at the federal level. Abbott has never been nuanced nor creative, he’s just wasteful and a monster.

The Texas Trib’s Uriel Garcia wrote a lengthy report about the various sides and various demands advocates and blamers are seeking from Greg Abbott.

The DPS officials told Pimentel that once Abbott’s order went into effect, troopers would constantly watch Catholic Charities’ shelter in McAllen, the largest in the area for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a brief the shelter filed in court as part of a federal lawsuit against the governor.

If troopers saw shelter employees and volunteers transporting migrants, they would pull over and impound the vehicle, the director told Avilés and Pimentel, the shelter’s executive director.

In the court documents, Pimentel said if the shelter couldn’t transport migrants to the nearby airport or a hotel, the shelter would become overcrowded — and increase the risk of COVID-19 if staff could not transport infected migrants to a hotel to be isolated.

“We would have to turn away mothers and babies who are seeking temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance,” she said. “If we cannot provide humanitarian aid, it is my understanding that these families would likely be left to their own devices on the street, without access to food, shelter and medical care.”

Yes, the DPS is Abbott’s gestapo, going door-to-door harrassing human rights groups who are simply helping migrants seeking asylum and escaping violence and poverty. Unfortunately, the Texas Lege has consistently funded his anti-immigrant campaigns of waste with little opposition from Lege Democrats, nor from progressive groups not related to migrant rights groups.

I guess it’s just one of those issues that liberals feel will inevitably pass, so why fight it?

Anyway, Abbott is still collecting for a gofundme wall, while local governments are waking up to the reality of Abbott’s priorities: It’s all about politics.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, who has criticized both the Biden administration and Abbott for how they’ve handled immigration, said the governor’s approach gives a “false portrayal” that the problem is illegal immigration, when in reality, the problem is not having resources to help asylum-seeking migrants who are following a legal immigration process.

Cortez said a wall or more state troopers on the border wouldn’t stop migrants from seeking asylum. The Valley needs resources to help asylum-seekers be processed in a more humane and practical way, he said, rather than packing them into overcrowded shelters and the processing center at the Anzalduas Bridge.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much lobbying for this at the Texas Capitol from county and local leaders. Again, instead of being proactive, they have fallen prey to Abbott’s reactionary politics, and have even joined the game of blaming migrants.

The reality is that half (probably more) of those crossing into the US are seeking asylum as families. The Trib has a good video showing some of this reality.

Meanwhile, the word is that Greg Abbott is wanting to open a second Texas state prison (TDCJ) that he is emptying out by transferring inmates to other prisons in South Texas for the purpose of jailing migrants who have allegedly trespassed on private land while trekking through South Texas. But the first jail is hardly filled.

Reminder: The inmates are arrested by Abbott’s gestapo, tried, and convicted of a misdemeanor with minimal due process, then jailed at a former state prison. By the time all of this is done, they have either done time served or completed their sentences. Once completed, they are kept in the prison until ICE picks them up, if they even decide to pick them up. Those that aren’t are released by Abbott. And then things like this happen.

Last month, Antonio fled Venezuela with his father to seek asylum in the United States, saying he feared violent political persecution. He ended up in a Texas prison for weeks, accused of trespassing on private property after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio.

The 18-year-old was one of the first arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to lock up migrants on state criminal charges instead of referring them to federal authorities. He was also one of the first released, after prosecutors realized state police had, against orders, separated him from his father to make the arrest.

Once Antonio was out of the prison, it quickly became clear that local, state and federal officials had no idea what to do with him. Stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, he ended up at the home of his court-appointed defense attorney for days.

It gets worse.

“It really points to the fundamental problem with state law enforcement attempting to engage with immigration enforcement,” said Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “What we see here is the state interfering in that process … that now makes it difficult for someone seeking asylum to go through the process as intended and move quickly out of the border region.”

Antonio was released from prison last week after Val Verde County’s misdemeanor-level prosecutor dropped the trespassing charge at his first court hearing because state troopers aren’t supposed to separate families under Abbott’s arrest orders.

But days later, Antonio was still trapped in Del Rio without a path to begin the asylum process or reunite with his father, who was awaiting his own asylum hearing in Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which often takes immigrants from the state system to begin deportation proceedings, wasn’t interested in Antonio because he had no criminal conviction on his record, according to the county sheriff. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes asylum-seekers after they are apprehended at the border, declined to take on someone who’d already been in the state system. Neither federal agency responded to questions this week about Antonio.

Seriously, Abbott, DPS, local Barnie Fifes, nor the National Guard have no business doing immigration work–any of it. I hope Democrats who have returned to the Special Session will push back on Abbott when his Special Session demand for more border money is discussed.

Thanks to State Senator Alvarado

State Senator Carol Alvarado gave all Democrats who believe in the right to vote a shot of much needed ánimo when she stood up and spoke against Greg Abbott’s voter suppression bill.

Unable to take bathroom breaks or drink water, she had worn a back brace, eyeglasses and running shoes and talked slowly behind a desk stacked with papers and with a microphone in her hand as she mounted a 15-hour filibuster. The target of her efforts was Senate Bill 1, the GOP’s priority bill that would place new restrictions on voting that many opponents say would disproportionately suppress ballots from voters of color and disabled voters.

With 20+ days left in this second forced special hate session put on by Greg Abbott, the intent was not to kill the bill, but to increase public awareness about voter suppression. While Texas House members continue to boycott these special sessions for the purpose of stopping for the third time Abbott’s long list of bigoted bills, it was good to see the Senator do something equally bold.

The only thing that is left to happen is for the Democratic majority in the US Congress to stop pretending bipartisanship exists and push through a federal voting rights bill that supercedes state governments who are intent on violating Americans’ voting rights in various states. But thanks to right-wing Democrats, much of the Biden agenda is in peril.

Texas Lege Democrats have delivered their point to Greg Abbott, Republicans, to Democrats in DC, and to the general public. It is time for Biden and the Democratic majority in DC to deliver a just result.

Meanwhile, the Texas House now has civil arrest warrants out for the Texas House Democrats and have deputized the DPS to arrest them and take them back to Austin. Does give one a mental picture of Headly Lamarr swearing-in his “deputies” in Blazing Saddles.

Abbott’s Newest Border Boondoggle

Because I follow the town of my birth’s news on social media, I also find out that the local sheriff is up Greg Abbott’s hindside regarding his border foolishness.

Law enforcement is so up it, that they will post about all the dangerous car chases and captures of defenseless migrants that they involve themselves in, and accidents it and other law enforcement entities cause while on this hunt for brown people escaping poverty and violence. Even Abbott mentioned the chases, but failed to blame his own border policies for the car chases and accidents.

The governor said “literally everybody” he’d spoken with raised concerns about high-speed chases that pose a danger to residents in border communities.

KHOU

Basically, the sheriff’s departments in South Texas catch up to someone that may be smuggling humans by vehicle, stop them on a traffic violation, then release the migrants who are being transported to the Border Patrol and possibly charging the smugglers. What happens after, we aren’t hearing much about it. But it’s a a great photo op.

Recently, the local sheriff boasted about trying to re-open an abandoned prison in Crystal City that was owned by various taxing entities in the county and contracted to private prison companies to warehouse humans in the past. The prison was closed down after various violations and bad management. After Greg Abbott’s meeting of cowboy hatted sheriffs in Austin this past weekend, the local sheriff boasted that it was a first step at re-opening the abandoned prison, even calling it a job creator. I don’t care how hard up your town is, you don’t profit off of people who are trying to make a better life for themselves.

So, it seems Abbott wants to go into the migrant warehousing business, though it’s mostly been a federal contracting reality. And local cops are giddy at having something to do, apparently, and go along with Abbott’s bigotry. So, is Abbott blowing lies up these sheriff’s hindsides about getting a piece of that boondoggle, or is this an actual boondoggle that is going to happen?

As I stated a couple of days ago, Abbott is definitely demanding more of our tax dollars during the Texas Lege’s special white supremacy session to distribute among the local sheriffs for campaign photo op purposes. Hate sells in Texas and it earns votes.

Meanwhile, some of these counties in South Texas have among the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates and an increasing COVID-19 positive testing rate. South Texas counties are also among the most uninsured and underinsured. Hell, hundreds of people of the 12,000 residents of Zavala County died of COVID-19 because of Trump and Abbott’s bad leadership.

Greg Abbott’s priorities are obvious and it is obvious that South Texas sheriffs, which include a few Democrats, are just lining up at a trough filled with a lot of Abbott’s bullshit paid by your tax dollars.

Abbott’s Empty Immigrant Warehouse

Topping/Reuters

The Texas Tribune reported yesterday that Greg Abbott has transferred 150 prison guards from already understaffed prison units to the Dolph Briscoe Unit in Dilley, TX as part of Abbott’s foray into “immigration enforcement.”

Briscoe was chosen by Abbott to serve as an immigrant warehouse for those migrants targeted and captured by Texas DPS and sheriff’s offices in South Texas for whatever crimes Abbott wants them charged with. What authority Abbott has to do any of this is murky.

A spokesperson for the governor said Tuesday that the prison-turned-jail will only detain adult males charged with a state crime, without specifying the type of crimes. But the governor’s office said TDCJ is still “in the process of determining any changes or training needed to operate and house individuals at the Briscoe Unit.” The Texas Commission on Jail Standards’ executive director said Friday the agency was in the same process.

In Texas, jails primarily hold criminal defendants accused, but not convicted, of state crimes while their cases are resolved in local court and pursued by county prosecutors. State prisons incarcerate those who have been convicted of state felonies. It’s unclear which courts would hear the criminal cases of immigrants detained at Briscoe, or who would prosecute the cases.

I expect Abbott, DPS and border sheriffs will be whining at President Biden for free money to fund this bigoted debacle. Because Biden continues some immigrant warehousing ventures, it is something on which to keep an eye. Don’t be surprised if more funding and resources is demanded at the Texas Lege special session.

It is not surprising that Abbott, sheriffs, and DAs that support this from both parties would attempt to prosecute migrants for “trespassing” while they are escaping poverty and violence, as well as exploitation by smugglers and employers who may be involved. Abbott and republicans certainly are not seeking solutions to root causes of migration.

The Trib story goes into Texas’ severely understaffed prisons, but analysis on my part would require an investigation into who is in these prisons and why, as well as investigating overzealous DAs seeking impressive win-loss records for political purposes. And that’s a whole other story. For now, this story is really about Greg Abbott’s thirst for white supremacist policies which warehouse humans for political purposes.

Abbott and His White Supremacist Agenda

Yeah, I said it. Democrats need to call it what it is. In the legislature and on the campaign trail.

Greg Abbott has called a wasteful special session and his agenda is one that pushes white supremacist policies. Call it his announcement for 2024, call it an attack on democracy, or call it whatever you want to call it, the truth is that his agenda targets Black and Brown Texans.

Let’s go one by one.

Bail Reform – The republican way of achieving bail reform is by keeping the accused in jail by way of exorbitant bonds. The vast majority of folks in our jails are accused, not convicted, and cannot afford bail. There have been local movements to reform the bail system to ensure the accused can be released while ensuring they show up for court and republicans have found a way to blame it for the increase in crime, instead of alleviating root causes (poverty, infrastructure, institutional racist practices). Abbott will keep the jails full, thus punishing the accused while they await trial. And who is in our jails that cannot afford to bond out? Black and Brown folks.

Election Integrity – Abbott and republicans continue the Trump lie that there is rampant election fraud. The problem is that Abbott and republicans do not like the fact that Democrats have opened up access to voting for neighborhoods that are predominantly Black and Brown. Neighborhoods and people whose voting rights have historically been violated. Drive-thru voting, ballot by mail, 24-hour voting, voting access for the disabled are all targeted by Abbott and republicans after having achieved some success in 2020. Instead of being thankful for political participation by more Texans, they would rather make up lies about voter fraud and block people from voting. There is no fraud. Republicans just don’t want Black, Brown, Women, the poor, and the disabled to vote. Texas Dems walked out on SB7 at the end of the session for these reasons. And the republicans have not fixed the “typos” they put into SB7.

Border Security – Abbott is trying to be neo-Trumpian as he wants to continue building a GoFundMe border wall, turn badly run state prisons into immigrant warehouses, and continue his wasteful spending which bloats the Department of Public Safety and sheriff’s departments for the purpose of hunting Brown people, while getting away from actual crime fighting. He’ll blame immigrants who are escaping poverty and violence for the crimes of smugglers and those who exploit them, instead of demanding a better asylum and immigration system. Abbott and republicans are finding any way to further exploit Brown people for political gain.

Social Media Censorship – Abbott and his republican minions want the right to lie to the public and for his supporters to disseminate the lies without any kind of accountability. The republicans have always spread lies about crime rates, “criminal immigrants,” voter fraud, and about any program that actually helps people as a means of earning votes. They make the Black and Brown people the source of blame. They don’t want to be called out by private companies for spreading such lies through their social media platforms. They prefer a constant state of chaos devoid of truth or fact. It is people like Abbott and the republicans who caused the January 6 attack on our government, and they want the ability to continue supporting such actions.

“Youth Sports” – It’s just a nice way of saying they want to ban trans kids from playing team sports with those with whom they identify. It is child abuse and Abbott and the republicans want to legalize this discrimination. They are not protecting anyone with such an awful, bigoted proposed law. They are leaving these children vulnerable to legalized abuse in their own communities and schools. I’d say it has been their goal all along.

Critical Race Theory – Chicano and African American scholars and academicians have provided a rich and well-researched History of Texas (way before the Alamo book that offended racists (Dan Patrick) recently) that most of the time will provide a broader view to the narrow, hero-worshipping indoctrination that is forced upon Texas children. There are various truths that have historically gone avoided, and at times, have been embellished to make Texas seem as something it is not. Greg Abbott and republicans want a whites-only approach to Texas and US History because that is what they have always promoted, and they certainly do not want a history of Texas taught that will teach Texans the reasons for republican public policy. The less Texans know the truth, the better it is for Abbott and republicans to get away with their lies.

The republicans have the majority to pass these bigoted laws. But for Greg Abbott to sell white supremacy as putting “the people of Texas first and [to] keep the Lone Star State on a path to prosperity” is an insult to our intelligence. We know what he and his minions are doing. It is emboldened institutional racism wielding its power over Black and Brown people, as well as Women and LGBTQ+ Texans. They don’t even care that the electric grid is ready to collapse and that Texans are in need of Medicaid expansion. They know exactly who they are targeting with this wasteful special session.

Texans have a choice. Unfortunately, Texans have had this choice ever since the republican majority came to be and even the moderates have chosen bigotry all of these years. It is time to recognize the racism of republican policies, stop making excuses, and rid Texas of this republican majority.

SB5 Is Now HB2 and SB9 [Special Session 2]

As Cryptic Philosopher reminds us, the rallying cry for defenders of women’s rights no longer will include “#sb5” in any of the communications regarding the 2nd Special Session called by Rick Perry. A new session brings us new bill filings and designations, so, now, we are looking at HB2 and SB9.

While SB9 targets “abortion-inducing pills” prescribed by physicians, HB2 looks more like the bill that came up in the Senate and was cause for the successful protest that smacked it down. In other words, HB2 resubmits banning abortion procedures at 20 weeks; dispensing of “abortion-inducing pills”; the change in medical standard (without much medical evidence of such need) that would result in the closing of 80% of abortion-providing clinics around the state of Texas; as well as  a requirement that physicians have admitting privileges at hospitals located within a 30 mile radius of their clinics.

Rick Perry’s special session is about republican primary politics and about a full-fledged war on Texas women. Every part of this bill targets the reproductive rights of all types of Texan women; be it women, in general, poor women, minority women, women from rural areas of Texas, etc. If Rick Perry and the Republicans were interested in the health care or “safety” of women, they would support an expansion of Medicaid, but they do not. Every part of this bill is based on politics–not on professional medical opinion–as was being announced by State Senator Wendy Davis and her Democratic colleagues during the filibuster.

One more nugget of information to the “anti-” folks; some who trolled my Facebook page the other day. This bill does not ban abortion. Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. Simply closing down clinics will not end abortion, but it will mean unsafe and dangerous back-alley abortions for those who do not have access. If any of the “anti-” folks can live with this in their “Christian” conscience or simply say it’s “punishment for sins,” then their hypocrisy and disdain for women will only be more evident. And every attempt must be made to defeat them and these horrific bills.

Now, are the odds against the Texas Women defending against Rick Perry’s misogyny? Well, awful redistricting and lack of energy from voters during non-Presidential elections can be blamed for that. The Supreme Court of the United States is even lending them a hand in that regard with the recent Voting Rights Act decision. But if it serves as a catalyst to finally trek toward defeating Rick Perry and his right-wing minions, then it is safe to say we are on the right track. Once this battle is done within the next 30 days, it becomes about expanding this movement’s reach, utilizing all of the issues stances which make the Democratic Party the one to support. Better to begin now than 2 weeks before election day, right?

Perry and Dewhurst Will Continue Attack on Texas Women

As was expected, after Democrats defeated a bill to limit access to women’s health care and abortions in Texas, Rick Perry has called for a 2nd special session that will deal with “abortion restrictions,” as well as transportation and juvenile justice.

David Dewhurst showed his lack of leadership as president of the State Senate by  making and allowing some bad calls against State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster. After 11 hours, a final “violation” was sustained and stopped Davis’ filibuster. After a challenge by State Sen. Kirk Watson, and with the help of Senators Van de Putte, Royce West and a loud crowd of activists in gallery, the debate was extended enough that Senators finally voted on SB 5 at 12:03 AM, after the deadline.

An empowered group of activists will likely grow and be ready for the July 1st Special Session. Will Dewhurst be ready to follow his own rules on July 1st? Or will he continue on a disastrous trek of embarrassing the state of Texas by allowing the re-writing of rules and changing time-stamps on final vote outcomes? Of course, all of this is reflective of Perry’s lack of leadership, too.

One thing is for sure, I’m sure there will be multiple UStream accounts and video cameras around the Capitol to make sure the world is watching again. And the Twitterverse will definitely be blasting away. All Perry and Dewhurst need to do now is ban them. Boy, wouldn’t that be smart?

Kuff has a major recap.

House Redistricting Committee Coming to Houston

Folks in the Houston area have one more opportunity to make their voices heard. The Senate Redistricting Committee visited Houston on Saturday, and Greg has more on that one.

Here is the location for this week’s House hearing:

House Redistricting Hearing
HOUSTON
Wednesday, June 12th
2 p.m.
University of Houston
Michael J. Cemo Hall, Room 100 D
4800 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77004