Here’s How Texas Should Give Its Immigration Law the Boot

By DrVMDS on June 28, 2017

This piece first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Texas is not the first state to pass an anti-immigrant law targeted toward Latinos; that dubious honor goes to California. In 1994 California voters approved ballot proposition 187 that would strip the provision of any service—including emergency room care and K-12 education—from undocumented persons.

For a while it seemed like California was the exception that confirmed the rule of state’s not getting involved in issues of immigration. But after a lull of 16 years, Arizona passed SB 1070, the “show me your papers” law that triggered a number of other states, including Alabama to pass similar measures.

Regrettably, Texas probably won’t be the last state to pass anti-immigrant bills. We’re in the midst of a political climate where none other than the president of the United States refers to Latino immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.

But the recently passed SB4 in Texas is of exceptional significance for two reasons. First, the sheer size of the Latino population makes the effects wide ranging. Texas has the second largest Latino population in the nation and, since 2016, is the state with the biggest increase in its Latino population.

Second, the Lone Star state’s anti-immigrant law is vast in its scope. The law does not just ban sanctuary localities, it also penalizes police departments for not enforcing federal immigration laws and provides for the racial profiling of individuals who are stopped during routine traffic stops.

The Texas anti-immigrant law is slated to go into effect on September 1. Currently there are court challenges to block it.

In the meantime, immigrant advocates in Texas are pushing back. They got some good advice from Latino advocates gathered in Dallas recently at the 34th Annual Conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

On the final day of the conference, a plenary titled “Supporting the Lone Star State Post SB 4: How Latino Leaders Can Unite to Combat Anti-Immigrant Laws and Practices,” was held. The plenary panelists consisted of veterans of past immigration battles and current warriors.

The discussion was spirited, to say the least and in the end the advice resulted in a frank and useful to-do list.

Here’s some of what they said.

“Be bold, be aggressive, push back as hard as you can, get business community involved!”

Supervisor Steve Gallardo, Maricopa County, Arizona: Steve Gallardo has been on the front lines of the Arizona anti-immigrant battles where the wounds are still fresh. His take home was for Texas to push back with all of its might. Gallardo noted, that the country is watching and if SB4 is fully implemented anti-immigrant advocates in other states will be emboldened.

Gallardo’s second point was straight out of the Arizona playbook that saw the author of SB 1070 recalled and Sheriff Joe Arpaio defeated. He emphasized the need to reach out to the business community because at the end of the day anti-immigration policies are bad for business. Gallardo’s view is that politics can make for strange bedfellows and in pushing back, Latinos need to reach out to diverse partners who may not usually come to mind at first.

Continue Reading

MSBNC’S Alex Witt: DREAMERS Can Stay, Parents Go

By DrVMDS on June 18, 2017

What Did We Learn from the Comey Hearing?

By DrVMDS on June 9, 2017

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

Anti-climatic; that’s what former FBI Director James Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee was.

Most of the thrill of surprise was taken out because he released his statement a day before his hearing. And even before then the media had pieced the narrative together. Then, finally there’s the former FBI Director’s silky smooth professional demeanor. There was no question that he did not foresee and manage with confident ease.

At the end of Comey’s much anticipated public testimony there was nothing remotely resembling a Russia-Trump smoking gun. The most sensational part of the hearing was the repeated reference to President Trump as a liar. For those who are no fans of Trump that was stating the obvious. But for James Comey, steeped in the protocol of Washington D.C., that was some X-rated stuff.

So what can we take away from today’s hearing?

First, the drip, drip, drip continues. Director Comey’s hearing and his released statement continue the storyline of legally questionable actions by President Trump. The connection between Russia and Trump has smelled funny for a while. Today’s testimony did not put a cap on that funky smell but instead fanned it’s stink. Continue Reading

Calling Immigration on Latinos Protesting SB4 is Racial Profiling

By DrVMDS on June 1, 2017

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Freedom of speech. It’s a pretty big deal; that’s why it’s the First Amendment of our Constitution. But according to one Texas legislator the First Amendment doesn’t apply to you if you look Latino.

On the last day of the Texas legislative session hundreds of protesters filled the Capitol to protest the recent signing into law of SB4, a measure that goes into effect this fall. Activists were dressed in red, waved banners and chanted their opposition to the law. It was boisterous, but nothing that the Legislature hadn’t seen before. It was, pure and simple, an exercise of free speech.

But Dallas County Republican state Rep. Matt Rinaldi seems to have an uninformed view of the Constitution. Rinaldi, a supporter of SB4, didn’t like what he was hearing from the protesters so he called immigration authorities.

Rinaldi sent out a statement saying he made the call.

Several members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus recounted that Rinaldi, “came up to us and said, I’m glad I just called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to have all these people deported.”

On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an e-mailed statement “ICE is not aware of receiving any calls related to this matter.”

There was no way for Rinaldi, or anyone else, to know who was undocumented or not. The crowd was overwhelmingly Latino and that was enough for the lawmaker to assume the need for a round up and mass deportation. Continue Reading

Latinos Are In The Crosshairs of Trump’s Budget Plan

By DrVMDS on May 26, 2017

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Donald Trump has used Latinos as a piñata from the very first day he launched his campaign. If you’re angry about drugs, crime, the economy—blame it on Latinos, Latinos, Latinos. They were a handy scapegoat to beat up on during rallies and speeches.

But with his budget, Trump takes the verbal abuse and puts it into policy terms. Under the proposed White House budget there are a ton of losers, but Hispanics will be among those hit the hardest.

Some of the pain aimed at Latinos is clear-cut. Under Trump’s budget plan, undocumented immigrants would no longer be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Both of these tax credits represent $40 billion. Based on immigration numbers, the hardest hit would be Latinos.

Then there’s the close to five billion allocated to increased immigration security and enforcement. What this translates into is an even more aggressive pursuit of undocumented persons than we’ve seen in the first couple of months of the new administration. President Trump has no desire to fix a broken immigration system. What he wants are notches on his belt—how many immigrants can he rounded up and shipped off, DREAMers and law abiding immigrants be damned. Continue Reading

In The Thick Podcast – Live from DePaul University

By DrVMDS on May 19, 2017

MSNBC Live – A Day Without Immigrants Protest

By DrVMDS on April 30, 2017

Trump’s 100 Days Shows Latinos Are in for a Rough Ride

By DrVMDS on April 20, 2017

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Based on almost 100 days of President Trump, Latinos better buckle up, it’s going to be a rough ride.

The first 100 days of a presidency sets the tone and lays out the policy road map of the administration. In the weeks after taking office President Trump has set his administration on course for fulfilling its promises.

The biggies on the campaign trail were cracking down on immigration, law and order and repealing Obamacare.

We’ve yet to see a big, “beautiful” wall, a more punishing criminal justice system or the repeal of Obamacare. But the critical pieces have been put into place.

The cabinet Trump has named, together with the executive orders he has signed and his legislative agenda, have set him on course to make good on his promises.

That the Trump administration was going to go after “the Illegals” was a given. It was Donald Trump’s marquee issue since he launched his campaign in June of 2015. Days after taking office President Trump issued an executive order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, an all around get-tough-on-immigration order.

There’s a lot of beefing up of border enforcement and tough talk. But the two key take homes from this executive order are that they withhold federal funds to sanctuary cities and revive a dormant program (287g) that deputizes local law enforcement to carry out ICE duties.

Right around the same time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has undertaken an enforcement sweep. Targeted immigration enforcement surges were not uncommon under the Obama administration but they were focused on criminal aliens. Now, targets are Dreamers and Latina moms who have been here for decades.

The “get-tough” immigration tactics have had real repercussions in communities where Hispanics feel they are in the crosshairs, resulting in less economic activity and involvement.

One hundred days in, President Trump and his Attorney General have successfully accomplished one thing, set the tone of fear within minority communities. Continue Reading

Can Beto O’Rourke Beat Ted Cruz? Here’s How

By DrVMDS on April 6, 2017

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

AUSTIN – It’s official, the 2018 Texas Senate race is off and running. Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke has thrown his hat in the ring seeking not just to displace Senator Ted Cruz but to be the first Democrat elected to statewide office since 1994.

Texas is a red state through and through. The chances for O’Rourke, a third term congressman from El Paso and former punk rock musician, are not great. But it is certainly not a “suicide mission,” as Texas Senator Jon Cornyn described O’Rourke’s run.

There is a slim path to victory for O’Rourke. But here’s the thing, it does not rest on the traditional “demography is destiny” argument that claims the growing Latino population will carry a Democrat in Texas over the finish line.

The way Beto beats Ted is a piecemeal approach—shoring up Ted Cruz’s negatives, not touching the identity politics playbook, and going full throttle grass roots as Sanders did in 2016 and Ted Cruz did six years earlier. Continue Reading

Where Are You, Senator Rubio?

By DrVMDS on March 27, 2017

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Sen. Marco Rubio seems to have gone missing. Not missing from his Senate votes, like he was infamous for during his first term. Missing from the larger political conversation, especially when it comes to immigration and being a sober counterbalance to President Donald Trump.

During his time in the Senate, Rubio, R-Fla., has not always been a full-throated immigrant advocate. Nevertheless, he has always emerged as someone calling for the respect of immigrants and the need for sensible immigration reform.

Rubio was a member of the 2013 Gang of Eight Senate immigration reform bill. Rubio, the son of immigrants personally knows the relevance of immigration policy. And he also happens to have a mom that won’t let him forget his roots. At the outset of the Gang of Eight meetings, Rubio’s mom left him a voicemail in Spanish saying it was loving advice from the person who cared the most for him in the world.

“Don’t mess with the immigrants, my son. Please, don’t mess with them … They’re human beings just like us, and they came for the same reasons we came. To work. To improve their lives. So please don’t mess with them,” said his mom to the senator in a voicemail he has often quoted.

However, now Rubio is MIA and this in the midst of some real immigrant ugliness — even for Republicans. Earlier this month, Iowa Rep. Steve King tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.” Some Latino Republican members of Congress, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Florida Republicans, came out swinging against King in tweets of their own.

From Rubio, a deafening silence, not just on King’s tweet but on the larger wave of nonsensical immigration policy coming out of the Trump White House. The silence is frustrating to immigration reform advocates, but more than that, it’s puzzling. Politically, the stage is set for Rubio to be the adult in the room and to rise above the fray. Continue Reading

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