As if last weekend’s March For Our Lives events weren’t epic enough, Texas Leftist was glad to see some Houston Area high school students start yet another impressive movement. By bringing prominent Democratic and Republican leaders together in ways that political forces have fallen short, the Inaugural Day of Unity Texas is off to a great start.
Neil at All People Had Value made the point that we are facing an authoritarian/Constitutional crisis.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Stephen Young lists ten Texas celebrities who ought to get into politics, a list that might have been a bit more useful before the primaries.
For all the press and hype which surrounds the leading Democratic candidates for Governor, Texas Leftist continues to wonder when the actual FUNDRAISING will show up. Less than a month from the primary, it’s past time to make some money moves!!
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Remember last November, when the state of Texas had the opportunity to choose its next Lieutenant Governor? At the time, both candidates made their views on the matter of in-state college tuition guidelines abundantly clear… Democrat Leticia Van de Putte supported in-state tuition for undocumented students, while Republican Dan Patrick was staunchly opposed. In 2011, then Senator Dan Patrick felt so strongly against the practice, that he co-authored a bill that would have abolished in-state tuition for everyone whether they are undocumented or not.
Well today in 2015, Dan Patrick is the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, and he gets to decide what bills move forward in the state Senate. Should we really be surprised that he has now scheduledSB 1819… a bill that aims to abolish in-state tuition exemptions? If passed, the legislation would take effect in September, and could potentially affect thousands of current college students and those planning to attend in the coming Fall semester.
Besides the havoc placed upon undocumented students, the bill would also eradicate in-state tuition waivers for American citizens from out-of-state, and force institutions to either drop their waivers entirely or try to cover the costs of anyone that previously qualified for a waiver. If you haven’t guessed by now, the likely result of SB 1819 would be an increase in tuition and fees for all students as schools try to cover students, or adjust to lower numbers from the impact.
Lots of folks are saying that this move is just for show. “Even if the Senate approves the bill, it’ll never pass the House” or “Greg Abbott would veto the bill immediately”. But if those things are the case, then why is the Senate even dealing with the measure? Why risk angering an entire generation of college students, and all those who care about them?
As far as this blog is concerned, it’s not okay to just sit back, watch the drama, and hope for the best. If you care about preserving Texas in-state tuition, this is a time for action.Dos Centavos has some great resources that you can use to call your state Senator and tell them not to support this ridiculous bill. Let’s show Austin that in the last two weeks of this legislative session, they should have far more to do than impede the lives of our next generation of leaders.
For recent immigrant communities across the United States, what happened this week is an all-too familiar song and dance: take two steps forward, and two steps back. Just hours before President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration were set to take effect, they have encountered a judicial road block. Here’s more from Michael D. Shear and Julia Preston of the New York Times…
WASHINGTON — One day before hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants were to begin applying for work permits and legal protection, administration officials on Tuesday postponed President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration indefinitely, saying they had no choice but to comply with a federal judge’s last-minute order halting the programs.
In a decision late Monday, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, ruled in favor of Texas and 25 other states that had challenged Mr. Obama’s immigration actions. The judge said that the administration’s programs would impose major burdens on states, unleashing illegal immigration and straining state budgets, and that the administration had not followed required procedures for changing federal rules.
Upon hearing news of Judge Hanen’s stay, Republican Congressional leaders across the country immediately championed the decision. You know… those same Republican Congressional leaders that continue to criticize President Obama for trying to do something sensible about Immigration, but won’t lift a finger in Congress to pass comprehensive reform themselves. If you’re thinking this whole situation screams of ultimate hypocrisy, you’d be correct.
Same goes for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, whom referred to the Obama Administration’s plan as “Executive Amnesty”. As the Burnt Orange Report points out, it seems that the Governor would rather have Texas families torn apart than do something sensible.
But even with the temporary setback, Houston city leaders are working hard to ensure that the process of helping hundreds of thousands of people come out of the shadows can move forward as soon as possible. Today after the weekly City Council Meeting, the Mayor unveiled new resources designed to help families stay up to date with the latest Immigration Action developments. Here’s that information via the City of Houston press release…
Houston Mayor Annise Parker today announced the launch of a new informational website for immigrants who are interested in applying for citizenship or deferred action. The new website is the product of a partnership between the City’s Department of Neighborhoods Office of International Communities (OIC) and the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC). The partnership was established last December in response to President Obama’s executive order on immigration.
“We formed this partnership with one simple goal in mind—to make sure that Houston is prepared for the implementation of the President’s executive order,” said Mayor Parker. “I am certain the recent court order delaying implementation of the President’s order will be temporary. When it is lifted, Houstonians affected who will be able to take advantage of the President’s order need access to accurate information and a way to connect with reputable organizations that can help them. With the launch of this new website, I’m pleased to report that Houston is ready.”
The website [www.citizenshipcorner.org] provides access to accurate, up-to-date information about applying for citizenship and new “deferred action” programs that offer the right to stay in the U.S. and work permits to eligible undocumented immigrants. The site will help people find trusted community organizations for legal guidance and assistance.
“The new immigration policies will have a huge impact on our community,” said Wafa Abdin, Vice President of Immigration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance, a member of HILSC. “We are the largest provider of low-cost legal services for immigrants in Houston. We are working with our colleagues in the Houston region to address the increased demand from immigrants seeking accurate information and legal assistance as pertains to the expanded DACA and the new DAPA program.”
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is of course a program that was initiated by the Obama administration in 2012. Under the new plan, DACA is set to be expanded, so more people will be eligible for protection from deportation and a 3 year work permit.
DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, is a new program that would grant the same work permits and protection from deportation to parents of American Citizens or DACA recipients.
It’s important to note that despite the judges’ claims, the DACA program has been incredibly successful in its first two years. Over half a million work permits have already been granted, including some 88,000 for undocumented persons residing in Texas. Free from the looming threat of deportation, DACA has improved the lives of its beneficiaries, whom no longer have to seek illegal routes of doing business within the United States. The program of bringing more people out of the shadows is actually serving to make everyone safer.
And by the way, the “cost burdens” that everyone talks about from Immigration Action? That’s false as well. Each DACA recipient had to pay a $465 fee for the work permit, which brought over $250 million in additional revenue to the U.S. government. That’s more money that can be used to actually make the country safer… not the other way around.
Thankfully, Houston sees the extreme benefit that these programs can provide to the region. So visit www.citizenshipcorner.org and to stay up to date on the developments, and help stop the spread of misinformation.
The clock is slowly ticking on towards the Houston municipal elections. But one area that has seen significant action is the race for Mayor. This week, another major candidate has made moves that are sure to shake up the race. Theodore Schleifer of the Houston Chronicle reports that all the signs point to an impending announcement from Garcia…
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is sending every possible message that he intends to run for mayor this year, aggressively increasing his political operations and signaling to some close advisers and backers that a campaign may be imminent.
Garcia, under the Texas Constitution, would have to resign as a county official immediately upon declaring his candidacy. That presents Garcia, who watchers expect to immediately move to the field’s top tier if he joins the burgeoning mayoral fray, with a fateful decision: Does he step down as the county’s top Democratic officeholder to make a bid that would make him either Houston’s first Latino mayor, or politically unemployed?
“At the end of the day, it’s like standing at the craps table, placing the bet – and you could walk away with nothing,” said Garcia confidant Greg Compean.
Perhaps most tellingly, county sources say, is that Garcia’s top staff at the Sheriff’s Office are looking to jump as they eye other county positions that would give them a landing place beyond Garcia’s tenure and vest them in the county’s pension system. Garcia’s top lieutenant and close friend, Armando Tello, left last month for a lower-profile post in Precinct 6, and other executive officers currently are scoping out other opportunities.
“He’s running,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Laura Murillo, who once considered her own bid for mayor. “He’s getting ready to make his announcement very soon.”
Murillo is not in Garcia’s inner circle, but several of the sheriff’s other allies confirmed a bid is all but inevitable.
Sheriff Garcia joins a growing field of possible candidates… including State Representative Sylvester Turner, former Congressman and City Council member Chris Bell, current Council Members Stephen Costello, Jack Christie and Oliver Pennington, Ben Hall, Bill King and Orlando Sanchez. Crowded doesn’t even begin to tell the story here, but it’s important to note that some candidates have more potential than others. From the pillars of potential money and name ID, Garcia presumably sits in the upper echelon of contenders right out of the gate with Sylvester Turner. Though there is certainly nothing to stop Ben Hall from bank rolling his own massive campaign, as we basically saw from 2013.
Side note… are there any women interested in running for Mayor? Any??
By far, a Garcia run will have the most immediate impact on local politics. As Dos Centavos points out, his resignation as County Sheriff could mean a substantial roll back of the Progressive policy agenda that has been actualized in recent years. Would a more Conservative Sheriff dismantle aggressive Mental Health reforms and LGBT protections in Harris County law enforcement? That remains to be seen. But those fears aside, there is no doubt that Garcia is a most worthy candidate to lead the city of Houston.
If you are a Texan, chances are good that you have met someone who is, knows or is directly related to an undocumented immigrant living in the United States. 16.6 million families in the United States are of “mixed status” — households where American Citizens and undocumented persons live under the same roof. As such, President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions, announced tonight, will have a massive effect on the Lone Star State.
On this historic night, here are the basics, directly from a White House Press coordination..
The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. Acting within his legal authority, the President is taking an important step to fix our broken immigration system.
These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
These are common sense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill—like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago—that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.
Three critical elements of the President’s executive actions are: Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border: The President’s actions increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back. Continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally this summer, the President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to continue to crack down on illegal immigration.
Deporting Felons, Not Families: The President’s actions focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety. He has directed immigration enforcement to place anyone suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers at the top of the deportation priority list. Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes: The President is also acting to hold accountable those undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. By registering and passing criminal and national security background checks, millions of undocumented immigrants will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time.
As listed above, these executive actions are not the commands of a king, or the harsh over-extensions of a power-hungry dictator. They are common-sense reforms that honor the law of the United States, while recognizing the reality of those living within our borders. Your neighbors, your classmates, your friends and your community members are the ones that will directly affected.
But even if you are not someone related to an undocumented person, the President’s actions help you as well. Here’s why…
A known community is a safer community. People that live in fear of deportation also live in fear of the law, and of public actions in general. Imagine that you are someone who is mugged, and the only witness is an undocumented person. Would they be willing to go with you to the police station to identify your attacker? Or someone in a traffic accident… what’s the likelihood that the person who hit you is going to drive off and never be seen again? These are real issues that everyone in today’s society deals with. Our law enforcement will now be able to do their jobs better because more people in our communities can be true eyes and ears for bad actors.
A known community is a more prosperous community. Bringing people out of the shadows decimate the black markets they are forced to rely upon for goods and services. Their money, and their tax dollars enters the books, and provides more direct contributions to our schools, cities and states. Legal working abilities also decimate the severe wage theft that many undocumented persons experience, but are too afraid to discuss.
There will be much more to assess in the coming days. But for tonight, millions of people across this country can rest easier and get ready for a new chapter in their lives.
Given how badly Texas Democrats lost last week, few are surprised to see a lot of in-fighting and finger-pointing within party leadership. As has already been addressed, there were some notable missteps on the part of Battleground Texas, which the group, to its credit, is actively working to address.
But in recent days, a new whipping boy has emerged for the 2014 failures… Texas’ discriminatory Voter ID law. Here’s more on the argument from Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune…
Say this for the state’s new voter ID law — it gave Texas Democrats a patsy for the thumping they took on election night.
The overall number of votes cast in this year’s election was less than in 2010 — by about 271,000. Although that appears to be part of a national trend, Texas Democrats blamed the state’s voter ID law, which they say discourages people from showing up.
Texas turnout, already the worst in the country, dropped. The state’s population is larger than it was in 2010. More than 14 million Texans registered to vote, according to the secretary of state — up from 13.3 million in 2010. Turnout that year was 37.5 percent. Turnout this year (the numbers are unofficial) was 33.6 percent.
The people who did not show up appear to be Democrats. The Republican numbers were up in the governor’s race, while the Democratic numbers were way down.
At a post-election discussion last week, Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, suggested the voter ID law might be to blame for the decline, implying that Democrats are more numerous among non-voters than Republicans. His opposite on the Republican side — Steve Munisteri — guffawed at that, instead crediting his own party’s turnout efforts, the state’s recent voting history and the national trend against Democrats.
There’s no doubt that the stringent Voter ID law was a contributing factor for Democrats… possibly a significant one. As Think Progress reported, poll watchers in Houston did see some issues, and the number of Provisional Ballots cast more than doubled from 2010. Because of Voter ID, it is definitely more difficult to vote in Texas than it used to be.
But the party and related organizations need to be careful not to point the finger exclusively at the law, else they risk losing the opportunity for a thorough examination of other factors, including their own culpability. If all 600,000 of those voters estimated to be disenfranchised had shown up to the polls, wouldn’t we have way more than 16,000 Provisional Ballots cast? Press outlets would have reported on long lines of frustrated voters being turned away. Had Voter ID been the sole reason that Democrats stayed home, evidence would bear that out.
Instead, many of the Democrats didn’t make it to the polling place at all. We already know that most Texans are low-propensity and low-information voters. Getting them to suddenly turn up attention before the election, and then turn out to vote was always going to be a greater burden for Dems than the habitual voters of the GOP. Then there are the more subtle tricks, like Abbott’s last-minute decision to cancel on his debate commitment with Davis just so he could weasel out of mainline TV coverage for less-noticed PBS. And of course, the internal friction between the party and other political organizations didn’t help either.
At the end of the day, all of these factors played a supporting role in the issues of 2014. But let’s hope that Texas Democrats do not try to cast any single one, like Voter ID, as the only star of the show. Instead, it’s time to live, learn, examine and focus on the battles ahead in the 2015 Texas Legislature. Dos Centavos has more on what promises to be a long ride.