Tag Archives: Alexa Ura Texas Tribune

After ‘Travel Ban’, Citizens Gather, Support Texas Muslim Capitol Day

If Americans are learning anything in the wake of January 20th, it is this:  the controversy just doesn’t stop when your President is Donald Trump.  As if the proposed Border Wall plans weren’t enough for week one, the nation was left reeling late Friday from the President’s hastily announced (and apparently hastily conceived) ‘Travel Ban’ targeting persons from seven Muslim-majority countries.  The Executive Order erupted, causing mass confusion among affected travelers and barring people from entering the country.

Here’s the full text of the  President’s Executive Order:  Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, directly from the White House.  Many Trump supporters are quick to point out that the Executive Order does not explicitly ban any person of a particular religion, so it is unfair for protesters and others to label it as a “Muslim Ban”.  But like many of the actions Trump has taken thus far, his true motives were revealed in a recent interview where he doubles down saying the Ban is “meant to prioritize Christians”.  So yeah… it’s a Muslim Ban.

 It’s in this fractured and uncertain environment that the Muslim community held its advocacy event in Austin.. Texas Muslim Capitol Day.  The biennial advocacy day was organized by the Texas area chapters of CAIR– the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  Here’s more on the event from Alexa Ura and Alex Samuels of the Texas Tribune…

Participants in Tuesday’s Texas Muslim Capitol Day traveled to Austin for a day of education about the state government. But they walked away with a significant lesson in civil demonstrations.

Two years ago, the Muslim participants who visited the Texas Capitol were met with two dozen protesters who repeatedly interrupted their event. But when participants walked up to the south steps of the Capitol on Tuesday morning, they were surrounded by a massive human circle made up of at least 1,000 supporters looking to ensure the event went off without a hitch.

“Civic engagement … it is not just a privilege. It is God-given privilege, and it’s also a blessing and our duty to participate,” Sarwat Hussain, president of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the crowd gathered for the biennial advocacy day. “Lately, we have seen some demonstrations against us. That is not going to stop us at all.”

 

[…]

Outside the Capitol, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers attending the event made their support known. “We are with you … this is your country, this is your state,” state Rep. Celia Israel of Austin told the crowd. “Texas needs you, and you belong here.”

It was a sentiment made clear by supporters who had joined arms in front of the Capitol. And it was echoed earlier that morning when the first few students who arrived for the advocacy event were met with cheers and applause from the circle of supporters.

As positive as today’s events may have been outside the capitol, the usual business of exclusion and division was alive and well among leaders of the Texas Legislature.  In Governor Greg Abbott’s State of the State Address, chief among his agenda for lawmakers was to pass a ban on ‘Sanctuary Cities’.  What this means for immigrant communities remains to be seen.

But come what may, Texas Muslim communities and those that support them and our collective freedom of religion are here to stay, here to live, here to work and here to be visible.

In ‘Immigration Action’ Lawsuit, Abbott Forecasts Future As Governor

During the 2014 campaign Texas Governor-Elect, Attorney General Greg Abbott said gave this as his current job’s description…

“I wake up.  I sue Obama.  I go home.”

Even as he prepares to assume the state’s highest office, Abbott still has time to file yet another frivolous lawsuit claiming that the President’s Executive Action on Immigration is somehow in violation of the United States Constitution. Here’s more on the news from Michele Richinick of MSNBC

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and governor-elect of Texas said that his state’s immigration lawsuit against President Barack Obama is to prevent executive actions from causing “harm” to the U.S. Constitution.

Seventeen states, including Texas, filed a joint lawsuit against the White House on Wednesday for its executive actions. Abbott, who will replace current Gov. Rick Perry next month, is leading the legal action. He previously cited his beliefs that the country’s immigration system is “broken,” and that the Constitution says the immigration policy must be fixed by Congress, not by presidents.

What we’re suing for is actually the greater harm, and that is harm to the Constitution by empowering the president of the United States to enact legislation on his own without going through Congress,” Abbott told NBC News’ Chuck Todd Sunday on “Meet the Press.” He continues to argue that the president’s actions will inspire a fresh wave of undocumented immigrants into the country.

The only problem with Abbott’s argument??  President Obama is not enacting any legislation of any kind.  He has not halted deportations, or granted any form of citizenship to undocumented persons.  The Executive Action has simply created a more logical way to deal with the reality of people that are already here.

Given his new job next month, perhaps the Governor Elect needs to brush up the skills of being an executive.  Continuing to throw useless lawsuits at Obama does not instill confidence that Mr. Abbott is ready to assume the new job.

However, it could get him into hot water with a large part of his statewide constituency, as Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune reports…

Along with his 20-point margin of victory, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott accomplished something on Election Day that many naysayers doubted the Republican could: He took 44 percent of the Hispanic vote.

For Texas conservatives, Abbott’s performance indicated that Republicans are making headway among this increasingly crucial voting bloc, which tends to lean Democratic. But upon taking office, Abbott will find himself in turbulent political waters.

[…]

Abbott, the current attorney general, had to fulfill a campaign promise by filing a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive order protecting up to five million undocumented immigrants, including half a million Texans, from deportation.

“By winning the election and being successful among Hispanics in a low-turnout election, Greg Abbott has not solved the fundamental problem that he has politically,” said Jim Henson, a Texas Tribune pollster and director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

The thorniest issue Abbott may face is a proposed repeal of the so-called Texas DREAM Act, which allows some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges.

For most of his campaign, Abbott avoided taking a definitive stance on the act. He urged reform of the program, not a repeal. In a September debate with his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis, Abbott said he would not veto a repeal of the tuition law if it reached his desk.

Campaign promise or not, why would Abbott, now safely on his way to office, choose to take step guaranteed to divide many parts of the Texas Republican party?  Simple… it’s because Abbott truly doesn’t believe in Immigration Reform.  If he did, he would drop the act and let people know just how non-controversial and sensible the President’s actions are.  Or at the very least, not spend the time and energy needed for this lawsuit.

Ask any politician their most favorite time of their political career, and they will likely tell you it was just after being elected.  The grueling work of campaigning is done, and nothing but a bright future of what could be lies ahead.  This is a time to make big plans, and go for bold ideas.  But for the man set to lead the Lone Star State, that’s not what is happening.  Instead of looking to a bigger and better future for Texas, Greg Abbott has decided to just play in the weeds of blanket Obama hatred like his predecessor.  If first actions are any indication, the Greg Abbott version of Governor really be much the same as that under Rick Perry… maybe worse.

Get ready Texas… it’s going to be a long 4 years.

About the Same

The One Issue Texas Democrats Must Raise This Fall… Now

Regardless of one’s political ideology, all campaigns start to look much the same this time of year as they become obsessed with one thing and one thing only…

TIME.

Everything boils down to time. Can the front-runners run out the clock? Can the under dogs meet and persuade as many voters as it takes to win?? Each hour that slips by is one hour closer to E-Day. No matter how much cash a particular candidate can rack up, the one thing they cannot do is buy more time.

For a certain political party in the the lowest-voting state in the country, there for sure are not enough hours in the day. Not only are Texas Democrats saddled with the immense burden of voter turnout, they also need to stage an historic re-education campaign of Texas voters, who have long been disengaged by vigorous suppressive tactics from the TEApublican oligarchy. For even the best and brightest, this work is a mighty tall order.

But it is still very possible. Some of the ingredients needed to pull off such an upset are already in place… Bright Democratic stars like Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, a GOTV apparatus larger than any ever before in Texas, and a dedicated, enthusiastic base of support. The well-informed and party faithful will be at the polls in full force this November.

The last ingredient Democrats are still missing? Low turnout, low information voters. Most of the time, these voters are politically disengaged and lower-income. They are people that, by necessity, do not have the “luxury” of engaging in the day-to-day political squabbles.  When you are living paycheck to paycheck, who said what in someone else’s business deal is not gonna impact your life.

The big secret here folks? There is one issue that can reach the Silent Majority better than any other… Medicaid Expansion. Those same low-income, low-information voters are also the people that know the agony of being unable to see a doctor when they are sick or battling a serious ailment. After putting off a bevy of issues, they then know the fear of being forced to go to the Emergency Room from something that could’ve been prevented. They know loved ones and friends who may be around today had they had insurance. If enough of Texans know that a vote for Democrats this fall could be what gives them life-saving health insurance, there’s no question how they will vote.

Stating the position on a couple of websites, though apreciated, is not enough. It’s time to put ads on the air that are crystal clear about where Democrats stand on Medicaid Expansion. Do press conferences on that single issue… Talk to families whose lives could be vastly improved with access to healthcare. Make it a major issue against the Texas GOP the same way Davis and Van de Putte have done with Education.

The chorus of those who favor Expansion is growing, and growing fast.  Take this recent editorial from the Beaumont Enterprise

 

Republicans don’t like Obamacare. We get that – and the law is not perfect. But it has been upheld by the Supreme Court and is in effect. In fact, it will be unless or until Republicans retake Congress and the presidency – which is a tall order. So every year that Republicans refuse to accept expanded Medicaid in Texas under Obamacare is another year they leave money on the table – lots of it, as in $100 billion in federal funds from 2014 to 2023.

It’s time for a rational compromise. When the Legislature convenes in January, Republican members and top elected statewide officials should accept Medicaid expansion at least on a temporary basis. If Obamacare is repealed at the national level after the 2016 elections, the issue becomes moot. But as long as Obamacare remains in effect – and again, that might be a long time – Texas would be eligible for those many billions of dollars to help provide health care to low-income residents who don’t have it.

This is hardly a radical idea. Republican governors in other states like New Jersey, Arizona, Ohio and Florida have done the same math and decided that the rational thing to do would be to accept Medicaid expansion whether they like Obamacare or not (and they don’t).

 

The same can be said of the Texas Organizing Project, who have made Medicaid Expansion a central focus of their efforts during the Fall election cycle.  Here’s more on that from Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune

 

The conversation was familiar for Ornelas, who goes door to door to talk to residents as part of efforts by the Texas Organizing Project to increase voter participation among minorities. The group’s field organizing team often meets minority voters who list health care as a top concern, and it is looking to leverage that issue to get more Hispanic voters to the polls in November.

Since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2009, Republican leaders in Texas have opposed expanding Medicaid to cover poor, uninsured adults, saying the system is broken and should be overhauled before it is expanded. The issue of Medicaid expansion resonates strongly with Hispanics, who make up a large portion of the state’s uninsured population.

In Harris, Dallas and Bexar counties — three of the state’s most populous counties — The Texas Organizing Project is working to use Hispanic support of affordable health care to spur a movement that could change the state’s electoral tide.

The group’s leaders said they believe their efforts, which include 200 canvassers and phone bankers, will be successful because the individuals they are working with are receptive to candidates who support the federal health law regardless of political affiliation.

“These aren’t people who are worried about turning Texas blue,” said Ginny Goldman, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, which has endorsed Democratic candidates who are supportive of the health care law. “Not only will we support Republicans who are on our side of the issues, but we’ll take on Democrats who are not.”

As TOP knows, time is of the essence. The last day to register to vote is October 6th. Knowing where political leaders stand on Medicaid Expansion may be just the issue to take many people off of the fence, and over to the ballot box.

While it’s important to recognize the lone Republican voices out there like Harris County Judge Ed Emmett who supports Medicaid Expansion, this is still an issue being led by Democrats, at least for the foreseeable future.  The vast majority of Texas Republicans, despite mounting evidence showing that the state is running out of options, remain staunchly opposed to helping Texas families.  In 2014, their only hope to have healthcare options lies with Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte and their supporters.  The ticking louder by the hour to E-Day.  Let’s hope Texas Democrats go big on healthcare before it’s too late.

Van de Putte Answers Voters In Live Spanish Language Forum

If Texans had any question about which candidate is willing to listen to them in the Lieutenant Governors’ race, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte put those questions to rest last night. Here’s more from Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune

During a Spanish-language town hall on Friday, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, advocated for a higher minimum wage in Texas.

“We know that people who live off of minimum wage live a poverty-ridden life,” Van de Putte said. “Raising the minimum wage is good for the economy.”

Van de Putte’s remarks come a week after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis called for pushing the minimum wage in Texas to $10 per hour. In her remarks, Van de Putte said she was unsure whether increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current requirement of $7.25 per hour was the necessary hike, but she indicated that the Texas Legislature should raise the rate.

Her campaign had hoped the town hall event would be a debate with her Republican opponent, state Sen. Dan Patrick. But Patrick “respectfully declined” to participate in the event, according to event organizers. During the hour, she answered questions from three panelists, from a studio audience, and some asked via social media. <\blockquote>

The forum marks the first time in Texas history that a candidate for statewide office has participated in a televised Spanish language forum during General Election season. Previously, there was a 2002 Primary contest between Democrats Dan Morales and Tony Sanchez also done entirely in Spanish.

Van de Putte’s Republican opponent Dan Patrick was once again absent from the session with Texas voters.  Of course given his previous history of extremely disrespectful comments toward the Hispanic community, it should be no surprise that he didn’t want to answer their questions or hear their concerns. Democrats were quick to attack Patrick for not only refusing the debate, but also several cancellations of recent public appearances.

Besides the minimum wage, Van de Putte discussed a broad range of topics, including Medicaid expansion, LGBT rights and Veterans issues.  Portions of the town hall are already posted on Univsion 41’s website, and the broadcast is set to air on Univision stations in Houston, Austin and Dallas/ Ft. Worth at a future date.  Who knows what the impact will be in November, but one thing is for certain… Leticia Van de Putte showed great poise, knowledge and genuine compassion during the event, proving beyond a doubt that she has what it takes to be Lieutenant Governor.