Category: Immigration

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against ICE – Allegations of Human Rights Violations

State-level legislation provides our members with significant opportunity to change Texans’ lives for the better. At the same time, many issues that deeply affect our constituents are still in the hands of the federal government. However, this does not exempt State officials from continually advocating and supporting policies that defend human rights and protect our citizens — especially on issues like immigration. 

 

Last April, ICE conducted the largest workplace immigration raid since 2008 at CVE Technology Group based in Allen, TX. ICE agents rounded up nearly 300 workers after a yearlong investigation of CVE’s connection to staffing agencies famous for overlooking documentation status. Originally, the ACLU filed an open records request for the search warrants that led to the raid, but ICE rejected the request. 

 

On Wednesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against ICE for violating the Freedom of Information Act when they refused to publicly release the search warrants or give a reasonable explanation as to why they were withholding these documents. 

 

According to testimonies from those subject to the raid, ICE transported CVE employees to a separate location and did not allow anyone to use cell phones or speak with one another. From these first hand accounts, it seems likely that both undocumented and legal residents might have had their rights violated and were coerced into revealing more private information than they would have had they been properly informed of their rights.  

 

“Some of the people who were arrested were on the path toward legal residency and had appointments at diplomatic offices to become documented workers.” – Dallas Morning News 

 

Eighty percent of those involved in the raid were women, many with families and children who will forever be traumatized by this event. The simple fact is that people, real individuals who are working to provide for their families and contribute to their community, are being hurt, not the companies responsible for hiring undocumented citizens. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 states companies may not “knowingly” hire unauthorized immigrants. This glaring loophole has made it possible for companies like CVE to willfully hide behind temporary staffing agencies while claiming ignorance. 

 

Immigration status cannot dictate whether or not our government decides to uphold universal human rights. Beyond the moral imperative to treat others with the same dignity and respect you would want for yourself, the Fourth Amendment protects not only U.S. citizens, but everyone in our country. 

Photo courtesy of NBC News.

Federal Judge Saves Gov. Abbott From Horrible Decision on Refugee Resettlement

Last Friday, Governor Abbott formally opted out of the federal refugee resettlement program, a legal and widely supported form of immigration. While Gov. Abbott habitually demonstrates intolerance towards immigration, this most recent decision actively ignores his basic duties as a public servant and the suffering immigrants are attempting to escape when they relocate to the United States. The refugee resettlement program was born out of the 1980 Refugee Act and places highly vetted immigrants fleeing from their country of origin in the best place possible for their economic and emotional health. 

The ability to opt-in or -out of the program came with President Trump’s Executive Order 13888, which declared that states and localities must give written consent to participate in the resettlement program. Trump’s executive order came after he slashed the refugee cap for FY 2020 to less than 20% of the original number, going from 95,000 to 18,000. Since it’s release, 41 states have formally agreed to continue participation with the resettlement program. Texas is still the sole state to decline participation in the resettlement process, despite public backlash to Governor Abbott’s decision. It is disheartening that Governor Abbott brandished Texas with a reputation of being xenophobic, unwelcoming, and insensitive to human needs. 

Yesterday, a U.S. federal judge, Judge Peter Messitte of Maryland, ruled the executive order, and by extension Governor Abbott’s decision to pull Texas from the refugee resettlement program, unconstitutional, citing that localities and states cannot be afforded veto power. Judge Messitte also noted in his 31-page report that the executive order violated the 1980 Refugee Act. 

Although we feel deeply relieved with Judge Messittee’s decision, we do not underestimate the damage Trump’s executive order and Governor Abbott’s decision have already done. We know both Trump and Governor Abbott will continue to undermine legal immigration, and we will keep fighting regressive policies that run counter to basic human decency.

 

Below is a list of editorials from major Texas news outlets on the refugee ban, including select quotes from each. 

 

Texas is the only state to turn its back on refugees, and we should be ashamed

Dallas Morning News | January 11th, 2020

This is not a question of seeking to enforce border laws… This is about creating space for people with clear and approved asylum claims, and we are sorry that in his letter Abbott chose to conflate Texas’ border struggles with the decision to reject refugees.” 

 

Abbott’s rejection of refugees incomprehensible

Houston Chronicle | January 11th, 2020

Asylum-seekers and refugees are some of the most heavily vetted individuals who ever seek a home in the United States. As he noted, Texas has long been a leader in welcoming refugees. In fact, in recent years more refugees have resettled in Houston and Texas than any other city or state in the country.” 

 

Texas’ heart, ability to help are bigger than Gov. Abbott’s decision to bar refugees

Fort Worth Star Telegram | January 10th, 2020

… the Trump administration has already decided to limit the total number of refugees allowed into the U.S. by the end of the current fiscal year to 18,000, a big cut from previous years. Even if Texas took a disproportionate share, as Abbott noted it has in years past, it would be a relatively small job for the state.” 

 

Welcome refugees and the benefits they bring Texas

Austin American Statesman | January 2nd, 2020

Refugees aren’t making Texas less safe, but they are contributing to the state’s prosperity. Refugees in Texas had $4.6 billion in spending power and paid $1.6 billion in taxes in 2015…” 

 

Texas should say yes to refugee resettlement

San Antonio News Express | January 1st, 2020

… most political leaders across the nation — and across party lines — recognize that welcoming refugees fleeing war, violence and oppression in their home countries is not just the morally right thing to do but also a boon to local economies and community growth.

 

Photo above courtesy of KUT.

The ‘Texas Kids First Plan’

Last week on Thursday, Texas House Democrats rolled out their ‘Texas Kids First Plan,” an ambitious agenda that tackles several key public education issues. The agenda has gained attention these last few days with several media outlets picking up the plan. Below are just a couple of the notable quotes:

 

The Democrats’ plan is composed of dozens of bills members have filed — or will file — to increase teacher pay and benefits, pay schools more for educating low-income students, and provide more counselors for school districts. It does not include two policy items that may be included in Republican-filed legislation: merit pay for teachers or paying schools more for higher student test scores. 

— Aliyya Swaby, Texas Tribune, Feb. 21, 2019

 

Several bills — some filed and others still being drafted — will comprise the so-called Texas Kids First Plan, which also would increase per-student funding and lower the amount property-wealthy districts, such as the Austin district, pay to the state to support property-poor districts.

Republican leaders are expected to offer their own omnibus public education bill, which is expected to spend far less than the Democratic plan.

— Julie Chang, Austin American-Statesman, Feb. 21, 2019

 

Rep. Mary González, D-San Elizario, sits on the House Public Education committee with Huberty. She said the Democrats’ plan wasn’t meant to compete with Huberty’s bill but is just intended to broaden the conversation.  

“There’s a lot of overlap in what we’re saying here,” she said. “We want to put more money into public education. We want to help people with property taxes. We may have different ideas of how to get there, but we’re all basically saying the same things.” 

— Rebekah Allen, Dallas Morning News, Feb. 21, 2019

 

The proposal lays out some core principles that Texas House Democrats are advocating for this legislative session, including funding full-day pre-k, increasing the basic allotment, giving a meaningful pay raise to teachers and support staff, providing more mental health care access to children, and lowering property taxes for homeowners.

 

Going forward these next several weeks, House Democrats will continue working to see these policy ideas through to the finish.

Trump’s National Emergency Announcement

On Friday, President Trump declared a “national emergency” to build a wall on the US – Mexico border. This lawless act undermines the will of the people and their elected representatives in Congress.  For those of us in Texas, Trump’s rhetoric and actions are an insult – whether he is denigrating Texas’ border communities with false immigration and crime statistics or moving to seize private property owners’ land for his medieval barrier, every Texan should be outraged.

 

The research and evidence is clear: building a wall provides no real solution to stopping drug smuggling and human trafficking. Just because the President made an absurd campaign promise doesn’t mean American taxpayers and Texas landowners should have to pay for it.

 

Rep. Cesar Blanco put it well — “Trump’s national emergency declaration for his border wall is dangerous and radical. There is no national security crisis on the border. The only crisis we have is a humanitarian crisis.”

The Family Separation Crisis — How to Help

The family separation crisis at our border continues. In the last two months, nearly  2,342 children have been separated from their families. A federal judge gave the Trump administration until Tuesday to reunite all children under age 5 with their parents, a deadline they are sure to miss.

 

None of this should have happened. President Trump’s zero tolerance policy, which Greg Abbott defended, created this crisis – and House Democrats are taking it head-on. HDC members marched for justice, worked with state agencies to get answers, and shared resources — any and all actions available to help separated families.

 

There are more ways we can all continue to help. Click here to view and download a list of resources to help children and families who are separated. 

 

If you know of organizations we should add to this list, let please let us know. Additionally, be sure to check with Chairman Rafael Anchia and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, who are coordinating member visits and organizing additional ways we can all help.

 

We encourage you to share this list with your own email lists and organizations, on your social channels, and any other way we can help spread this information.

Abbott Endorses Trump’s Position on Family Separations

On Sunday’s Lone Star Politics, Governor Greg Abbott endorsed President Trump’s position on family separations, repeating the lies that the immoral and despicable Administration practice of separating children from their families requires a legislative solution.

Here’s exactly what Abbott said:

“And [Trump] was adamant. He said, Listen, if the Democrats would agree with him right now they could pass a law today that would end the ripping apart of these families and make the border secure, and so the President and Republicans have an offer on the table. All the Democrats have to do is to take it, and this could end today.”

Gov. Abbott has a long history of repeating the falsehoods of the extreme right, and his silence about any number of harmful Trump policies has been disappointing. But this is something else.

The Trump administration created this policy. The administration can end this policy. For the Trump Administration to take these children hostage as leverage for policy negotiations is absolutely, unquestionably wrong – and those who defend or endorse this policy are equally wrong.

I’m proud of the efforts of many House Democrats to speak up, loudly and forcefully, for the end of this policy. This dark chapter in our nation’s history needs to end immediately.

On Gov. Abbott’s support for family separations

On Sunday’s Lone Star Politics, Governor Greg Abbott endorsed President Trump’s position on family separations, repeating the lies that the immoral and despicable Administration practice of separating children from their families requires a legislative solution.

 

Here’s exactly what Abbott said:

 

“And [Trump] was adamant. He said, Listen, if the Democrats would agree with him right now they could pass a law today that would end the ripping apart of these families and make the border secure, and so the President and Republicans have an offer on the table. All the Democrats have to do is to take it, and this could end today.”

 

Gov. Abbott has a long history of repeating the falsehoods of the extreme right, and his silence about any number of harmful Trump policies has been disappointing. But this is something else.

 

The Trump administration created this policy. The administration can end this policy. For the Trump Administration to take these children hostage as leverage for policy negotiations is absolutely, unquestionably wrong – and those who defend or endorse this policy are equally wrong.

 

The Caucus is proud of many House Democrats for speaking up, loudly and forcefully, for the end of this policy. This dark chapter in our nation’s history needs to end immediately.

Update: health care and family separations at the border

The Dallas Morning News has published an incredible, heart-breaking series titled “Pain & Profit” that details how the state’s managed care system is failing Texas’ most fragile citizens. The key summary, from their report:

 

We reviewed more than 70,000 pages of documents, including patient medical records and material that state officials and the companies tried to keep secret. We crunched financial and insurance-industry data and talked to hundreds of families, doctors and policy experts.

 

We found that state officials are protecting a booming multibillion-dollar industry while the most vulnerable Texans wait in vain for wheelchairs, psychiatric drugs and doctors’ appointments. That system has failed countless disabled adults and sick children who can’t advocate for themselves.

 

To date, they have released three parts of their series:

 

Part 1: The preventable tragedy of D’ashon Morris

Part 2: As patients suffer, companies profit

Part 3: Texas pays companies billions for ‘sham networks’ of doctors

 

The HDC will continue tracking these articles and will provide additional information that comes to light about what’s gone so wrong with so many aspects of managed care for fragile Texans.

 

Update: HDC Responds to Gov. Abbott’s School Safety Report

 

Last week, Gov. Abbott revealed his policy response to the tragic Santa Fe High School shootings. Though some of his proposals will gain bipartisan support, others – including the expansion of the school marshal program while simultaneously reducing the training requirements to become a marshal – are highly troublesome.

 

The most substantial fixes we need — more counselors, school facility upgrades, and additional support for our students — require funding, something Gov. Abbott largely glossed over in his proposal. Look for a more detailed analysis of his proposal from the HDC later this week, as we continue the discussion on how best to increase the investment in our local schools in order to keep our kids safe.

 

Quotes from the Ending the Separation of Families Events Last Week:

 

San Antonio rally: 

Rep. Bernal: “There is no strand of faith that makes what’s going on OK.”

Houston rally:

Rep. Wu: “This our civil rights moment. We are going to be on the right side of history. We will not let families be separated and treated like cattle.”

Houston rally:

Rep. Alvarado: “People proclaim to be pro-family when it comes to certain issues. Si estas con nuestras familias, you will end this ridiculous family separation policy that is inhumane.”

Austin rally:

Rep. Rodriguez: “It is bigotry and it is wrong. How we treat these children is not an immigration issue. It is a moral issue, and separating families is wrong.”

House Democrats, business groups push for repeal of ‘sanctuary cities’ ban

AUSTIN – Texas House Democrats on Tuesday vowed to use “every conceivable tool” at their disposal to fight discriminatory legislation during the special session, including the so-called bathroom bill and a ban on ‘sanctuary cities.’

Members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and other House Democrats wasted no time targeting the legislation.

To continue reading this story go to the El Paso Times.

Pardon the disturbance, but we refuse to be silent (Op-ed)

“[The Legislature is] the place to put down the guns, unclench the fists and act like decent, full-grown humans willing to solve their differences without violence. And — this is the part that actually makes it work — to abide by the results until the next time to fight, whether that’s in court, at the polls or in the next legislative session.”

Legislators show that men will be boys — if you let them

— Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey attempts to minimize the events in the Texas House of Representatives on the last day of the session (“Men will be boys”), where a member of the majority party threatened a peaceful protest of an unjust law, calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and yelling for deportations. The protesters were predominantly Hispanic.

To continue reading this story go to Trib Talk.