DACA Under Siege by Trump and AG Jeff Sessions

Last week, Trump pardoned Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious national symbol of racism who refused court orders to stop his racial profiling in his zealous multi-year campaign of persecution against Latino communities. Now, one week later, Trump is throwing MORE red meat to his anti-immigrant and white supremacist supporters by going after immigrant kids, once again undermining American values in order to feed the bigotry of his extreme base. 

This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the world that we, as a nation, can no longer be trusted to keep its word, that our word is no longer our bond. You see, in a stunning act of cruelty even for Trump, he had Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce termination of key parts of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program effective six months from now, upending the lives of 800,000+ young people. That 

DACA recipients – often referred to as DREAMers — were brought to the US as children and for many of them this is the only country they’ve ever really known. Under the DACA program, they registered with the government and passed background checks in exchange for being able to work, pay taxes, and feel secure in their homes without the fear of deportation.

Many on the anti-immigrant Right who have been fighting against DACA since Day One have focused their criticism on the way in which it was done – with an executive order by President Obama. They have claimed that the real problem was just that Congress didn’t pass the law – so now it’s up to Congress to call their bluff and pass the DREAM Act.

Congress needs to act now to protect our investment in their education and assimilation before Trump releases his hordes of ICE thugs to begin deportation of DREAMers as their 2-yr authorizations come up for  renewals. And we even have a head start, because the bill already has bipartisan support!

Congress can undo this outrage by passing the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who graduate from US high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.

In the Senate, the DREAM Act is sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) … we need to demand that the Senate make this bipartisan bill a priority, to get relief to the DREAMers who need it.

Petition:  << Tell Congress to PASS the DREAM Act of 2017 without delay! >>

Or, better yet, take a moment from your day and call or write your members of Congress and ask them to expedite bringing the Dream Act of 2017 [ House bill#:  H.R.3440 / Senate bill#: S.1615 ] to the floor for a vote AND to vote for its passage:

New Ads on How Latinos Can Make History in Rejecting Trump

27 million is not just a number, it’s the number of eligible Latino voters 

Just days away from Election Day, Hillary for America released new English and Spanish language TV, digital and radio ads entitled “27 Million Strong.” The ads, including a TV ad narrated by Emmy Award winning actor Jimmy Smits, capture how Latinos are making history this election by breaking records with early vote numbers and mobilizing their communities to make their voices heard on November 8. “27 Million Strong” coincides with Hillary Clinton’s visits to Nevada and Arizona today, where she will highlight Trump’s long record of insults against the Latino community and challenge former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s comments that Latinos will sit out this election.

After Trump’s year-long campaign marked by a divisive agenda, the community is standing together to reject his dangerous vision. As the ads highlight, 27 million eligible Latino voters have the power to silence Trump’s ignorance and defend their equality, honor their ancestors and reaffirm their place in America. These ads will run nationally and in the battleground states.

LISTEN: “27 Million Strong” in Spanish

Watch: In English

Watch: In Spanish

New HRC Radio Ad Features Trump Hotel Staffer Saying Trump Treats Employees like “Second Class Workers”

Today, Hillary for America released a new Spanish language ad, “No es de oro” (All that Glitters Isn’t Gold), featuring a Latina Trump Hotel worker in Las Vegas who recounts  how Trump treats his employees like “second-class workers.”

Don’t let the glitzy Trump Hotel facades fool you– as the housekeeping employee explains, Trump has no respect for the hardworking people who clean his hotel and help him build his business every single day. Housekeepers at Trump Hotel in Las Vegas make three dollars less per hour than employees in other hotels in the city, which should come as no surprise since Trump said that wages are too high in our country.

No es de oro” encourages Latinos across Nevada and Ohio to register to vote and stand up to Trump’s bigotry this November.  The ad builds on the campaign’s advertising efforts to reach Latino voters through Spanish, English and bilingual communications.

SCRIPT (In English)

VO: Trump Hotel in Las Vegas has marble floors, crystal chandaliers, and expensive art on the walls. But those who work for Donald Trump will tell you, everything that glitters isn’t gold. Carmen works in housekeeping at Trump Hotel…

WORKER: He treats us like we’re second-class workers. He has no respect for us.
We’re the people who come here every day to clean his building, prepare the rooms, so he can be successful.

VO: Trump has said that wages are too high and the truth is employees like Carmen at Trump Hotel make three dollars less an hour than employees in other hotels in the same city. This is our country and it’s our duty to vote.
Join the millions of Hispanics voting for Hillary Clinton. A candidate who respects us. Visit Voyavotar2016.com to learn more about how you can register to vote. Voyavotar2016.com.

HRC: I’m Hillary Clinton, candidate for President, and I approve this message.

VO: Paid for by Hillary for America.

Supreme Court Takes Up ‘Fundamental Concept of Democracy’ in Voting Case

Supreme Court to decide if states should be required to draw legislative districts based on eligible voters or total populations

— by Nadia Prupis, CommonDreams staff writer

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the decades-old issue of “one person, one vote.” The main question is, what does “person” mean? (Photo: Jeff Kubina/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard a case on redistricting that could have a profound impact on voting and representation nationwide, as it considered the dynamics of the “one person, one vote” principle.

It’s a case that is poised to upend the U.S. voting process and, some critics warn, “make millions of people who live in our communities invisible in our democracy.”

In Evenwel v. Abbott (pdf), a case that emerged from a redistricting debate in Texas, the plaintiffs argue that states should only count eligible voters when drawing legislative district lines, rather than entire populations—an approach that would strengthen Republican strongholds in rural areas, while thinning out representation in urban centers, which have a higher proportion of non-eligible voters, such as non-citizen immigrants, children, and those disenfranchised through felony convictions.

“Everyone deserves fair and equal representation regardless of voting status or age. A ruling in favor of Evenwel would deny us fair representation in government and leave approximately 55 percent of Latinos unrepresented and affect many other groups—eroding Latinos’, Asian-Americans’, and African-Americans’ political power,” said Cristóbal J. Alex, President of Latino Victory Project. “We hope the Supreme Court will uphold the principle of one person, one vote. We should not create a second class of individuals who are subject to laws written by those who are not accountable or truly representative of the people.”

Because the decision in the case could impact nationwide redistricting rules, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs has the potential to “shift political power from larger areas that are more ethnically diverse and shift them more over to rural areas,” ACLU-Texas staff attorney Satinder Singh told Common Dreams on Monday.

That concern extends to numerous states with large minority populations.

“If changed, we will be moving from a standard that includes all people in the representation process to a scheme that excludes minors, undocumented veterans, and takes away the power given to communities to elect one of their own,” said Chuy Garcia, Illinois’ Cook County commissioner and populist icon.

In a city like Chicago, said Alderman Joe Moore, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could “make millions of people who live in our communities invisible in our democracy.”

The Supreme Court first imposed “one person, one vote” in 1964, when it ruled in Reynolds v Sims that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment requires state legislative districts to be comprised of roughly equal populations, though it gave individual states the power to decide on how they would determine “populations.” Most states leaned toward counting total residents, but a small handful of others only refer to voters.

But through decades of precedent, the court “never clarified what they mean by one person,” Singh said.

Justices have historically used “person” and “voters” interchangeably, he continued. “It’s a fundamental concept of democracy. Ultimately the question they’re going to be deciding is, what does this principle mean?”

It’s a question of representation that has been rejected by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a state federal district court, the U.S. Department of Justice, and ACLU-Texas, among other organizations. In fact, as Richard Hasen writes for SCOTUSblog, the case could be seen as nothing more than an attempt at “taking power away from the states and having the Supreme Court overturn precedent by imposing through judicial fiat a one-size-fits-all version of democratic theory unsupported by the text of the Constitution or historical practice.”

In fact, Hasen writes, the plaintiffs “are seeking to impose a standard which is not supported by the text of the Constitution.”

But the lawsuit has nonetheless climbed the judicial ladder. The plaintiffs, Titus County Republican Party chairperson Sue Evenwel and Montgomery County “party stalwart” Edward Pfenninger maintain that current standards weaken the influence of voices from areas with more registered voters, but smaller populations. Opponents, including Democratic Texas Rep. Marc Veasey and Mexican American Legislative Caucus voting rights counsel Joe Garza, say a redistricting policy that values registered voters over total residents would shut out large chunks of minorities, particularly those who are black or Latino.

“This legal challenge would do great harm to the state of Texas and potentially to other states that have very young populations and a significant number of noncitizen residents,” Veasey told McClatchy on Monday. “For Tarrant County in particular, this could mean that over 100,000 noncitizens would no longer be counted when assigning representation, according to a 2015 Migration Policy Institute report, and 27 percent of the county would be discounted due to be their age, according to the 2014 U.S. Census.”

Garza added, “We would lose seats in Texas—we would lose two districts in the Senate. It is an advantage for the white population.”

The implications of such a decision are far-reaching. In a state like Texas with a high population of Latino and minority voters, strengthening rural votes at their expense could lead to older, white constituents having “an outsize voice at the legislature,” Singh told Common Dreams. “A very small number of people would have a very large voice and would be able to decide things for a state with 30 million people.”

That “would certainly cause some representative issues and is a troubling notion of what democracy is,” he said.


CC-BY-SAThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Fixing the Voting Rights Act — HR3899

Fix the Voting Rights Act

Nearly 50 years ago, with Martin Luther King Jr. standing beside him, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law to protect African-Americans and other minorities from racist policies that made it harder for them to register to vote and participate in the political process.

But last summer, the right-wing ideologues on the United States Supreme Court, in the Shelby County v. Holder decision, gutted the Voting Rights Act, ending 40 years of protection for minorities against discriminatory and unfair attempts to limit voting based on one’s race.

Fortunately, Representatives John Conyers, John Lewis and others have now introduced legislation that would restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act for the 21st century. We need to stop Republicans in states around the country from enacting racist voter ID and voter suppression laws. Passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act now is the best way to do it.

“The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation ever passed and is vital to our commitment to never again permit racial prejudices in our electoral process.  It began a healing process that ameliorated decades of discrimination and helped distinguish a democracy that serves as an example for the world. Free, fair, and accessible elections are sacrosanct, and the right of every legal voter to cast their ballot must be unassailable. The VRA broke from past attempts to end voter discrimination by requiring federal preclearance of changes to voting laws in areas with documented histories of discrimination. There is no acceptable remedy for an unfair election after the fact.  Section 5 of the VRA was the only federal remedy that could stop discriminatory practices before they affected elections.

Shelby County vs. Holder severely weakened the election protections that both parties have fought to maintain.  The Court disregarded years of work by Congress.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court eliminated the VRA’s formula for determining which areas are covered by section 5. The result is that the pre-clearance requirement remains, but it no longer applies anywhere except in the handful of locations currently subject to a court order. By striking down Section 4, the Court presented Congress with both a challenge and a historic opportunity.  We are again called to restore the critical protections of the act by crafting a new formula that will cover jurisdictions with recent evidence of discrimination.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act is bipartisan, bicameral, and compliant with the Supreme Court’s ruling.  I am confident that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can work together to ensure Americans’ most sacred right is protected. Voter discrimination still exists, and our progress toward equality should not be mistaken for a final victory.”  — Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner

Bill Text
Section-by-Section Analysis
House Cosponsors

While the Supreme Court did not invalidate Section 5, a key part of the Voting Rights Act was thrown out. They threw out the basic formula that has been in use since the bill’s passage in 1965. That formula determines when the Justice Department must review local election rules, that might suppress the votes of African-American and Latino citizens, before they could be put into effect. Voter suppression rules can still be challenged by the Department of Justice after the fact, but this often happens too late to prevent minority voters from being blocked from the polls. The court’s decision effectively guts the Voting Rights Act, rendering it useless until Congress updates the coverage formula for Section 5.

Republicans didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of this ruling for electoral gain. Within hours of Supreme Court’s decision, several states in the South immediately announced that they would pursue onerous new voter ID laws that were clearly designed to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote.

It’s the same old story of using the irrational fear of voter “fraud” as cover while they work to disenfranchise eligible voters. The truth is, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. More Americans are struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. The real problem, the one that can adversely impact election results if we’re not vigilant, is voter suppression.

Tell Congress to fight voter suppression and pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act now.

TakeAction

For decades the Voting Rights Act protected voters in pockets of the country with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices. In 2012, it allowed the Justice Department to block attempts by Texas, South Carolina and Florida to implement discriminatory voting rules. But until Congress restores the Voting Rights Act, right-wing efforts to make it harder for African-Americans and Latino citizens to vote will run completely amok.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act would fix Section 5, our strongest tool for fighting voter suppression efforts, by updating the formula for determining which states and municipalities need pre-approval from the Department of Justice to change their voting laws. We need to show Congress massive public support for this crucial bill. Let’s put the extreme right-wing Republicans in Congress on the hook for not going on the record against efforts in the states to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote.

Resources:

1. “‘Shelby County’: One Year Later,” Brennan Center for Justice, June 24, 2014
2. “H.R. 3899: The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014,” Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner
3. “Voting Rights in the Post-Shelby county Era,” American Constitution Society, June 20, 2014

America the Beautiful for the 21st Century

Coca-Cola deserves praise for its inclusive Super Bowl commercial.

—by Raul A. Reyes

Raul A. Reyes

During this year’s Super Bowl, Coca-Cola debuted a 60-second commercial paying tribute to the diversity of our nation. Coke’s “It’s Beautiful” ad featured expansive scenes of the country and shots of a wide variety of real people. Some of them were enjoying a Coke.

It was set to “America the Beautiful” — as sung in seven different languages, including English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Hindi.

This commercial generated a profoundly negative response among conservative commentators. They reacted with hostility, fear, and even bigotry. To their discredit, these commentators revealed not only their ignorance — but also a willful refusal to accept the reality of America in the 21st century.

imageOn his radio show, Glenn Beck termed the ad “in your face,” and an attempt to “divide people.” This is quite ironic, considering that only weeks ago Beck admitted that his Fox News program was itself divisive.

“I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart,” he said. He’s right about that. His conspiracy theories, “birther” comments, and demagoguery were a far more corrosive influence on American society than any commercial ever could be.

Former Rep. Allen West also took offense at the Coke commercial.

“If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful” [sic] in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition,” the Florida Republican wrote on his website.

Even though West gets the name of the song wrong, that does not stop the tea-partying politician from calling the spot “truly disturbing.” As a self-styled “Guardian of the Republic,” West might be surprised to know that our country doesn’t have an official language and that the Census Bureau reports that 381 languages are commonly spoken within our borders.

Then there’s Todd Starnes, who tweeted “Couldn’t make out that song they were singing. I only speak English.” The Fox Radio host went on to wonder, “So was Coca-Cola saying America is beautiful because new immigrants don’t learn to speak English?”

Apparently these conservatives need a decoder for this commercial. “With ‘It’s Beautiful,’ we are simply showing that America is beautiful and Coke is for everyone,” explained Katie Bayne, President of North American Brands for Coca-Cola in a statement.

By the way, new immigrants do learn English. Consider a 2012 study by the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project that looked at language use among Latino immigrants.

While the first generation is usually only proficient in Spanish, by the second generation, the use of Spanish falls as the use of English rises. By the third generation, English is the dominant language. A separate study last year by University of Wisconsin researchers found that Latino immigrants are learning English faster than previous groups of immigrants.

It’s sad that Beck, West, Starnes and other conservative commentators don’t appreciate the richness of our multicultural society.

The fact is that our country has always been multilingual. There are 169 Native North American languages that are still spoken today, linguist Nataly Kelly notes at The Huffington Post, and several of the Founding Fathers spoke languages besides English, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.

Today, 60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. This year, for the first time, the Super Bowl was also televised in Spanish. So Coke’s commercial truly reflects our nation’s past, present, and future. What’s wrong with that?

Coca-Cola deserves praise for its inclusive Super Bowl commercial. And critics of the ad ought to think about the motto on the Great Seal of the United States: E pluribus unum. It means “Out of many, one”– — and it’s in Latin.


Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City.
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Our Star-Spangled Banner Waves for All of Us

The racist attacks on a young Mexican-American prodigy who sang the National Anthem didn’t occur in a vacuum.
By 

Raul A. ReyesBefore game three of the recent NBA Finals in San Antonio, Sebastien de la Cruz stepped up to the microphone and belted out the National Anthem. Decked out in his mariachi suit, the 11-year-old “America’s Got Talent” alum wowed the crowd with his singing.

On social media, racism reared its head. “This lil Mexican snuck into the country like 4 hours ago now he is singing the anthem,” read a tweet that formed part of an online river of hate. “This kid is Mexican why is he singing the national anthem,” tweeted another commenter, adding the hashtag #gohome.

sebastien-delacruz-reyesIt’s sad that a child should become the target of such ugly, anti-immigrant sentiment. However, these views didn’t arise in a vacuum. The fact is that Republican lawmakers have become accustomed to demonizing immigrants, to the detriment of our civil discourse and to their own party. Meanwhile, our nation continues to grow more diverse, putting the GOP out of step with a changing America.

After the 2012 presidential election, in which Latino voters overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama, the smart approach for the GOP would have been to adopt a more inclusive tone towards Latinos in particular and immigrants in general. That’s not what happened.

In May, Representative Don Young (R-AK) used the term “wetbacks” in a radio interview. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) routinely refers to undocumented people by the pejorative term “illegals.” Recently, Representative Steve King (R-IA) complained about the “illegal aliens” who “invaded” his office, in reference to the young, undocumented immigrants who organized a protest there.

The young people were protesting in King’s office because he sponsored a bill to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to adjust their status. King and his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives passed the anti-DACA measure knowing full well it has zero chance of becoming law.

Why? Because they have no qualms about being seen as openly hostile to immigrants.  Moreover, House Republicans remain opposed to comprehensive immigration reform.

These narrow views put them outside of the political mainstream. A recent New York Times poll found that 83 percent of Americans support comprehensive reform, including a path to citizenship for the undocumented. The anti-immigrant crowd is also bringing down their party. The research firm Latino Decisions has found that when Republican politicians speak negatively about immigrants, it doesn’t only reflect poorly on them, it gives Hispanic voters a negative view of the Republican Party as well.

As Republican lawmakers continue with this rhetoric, our country is undergoing a demographic shift. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for the first time, the number of racial and ethnic minority babies being born has passed that of white babies. The District of Columbia, Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and Texas are already “minority-majority” states, and eight other states will join this list by 2020.

If the GOP does not soon adopt a “big tent” approach, it risks marginalizing itself as a national party.

Yes, the changing face of the U.S. may seem frightening to some people. But the GOP shouldn’t play upon these fears — it should help dispel them. Consider that the Pew Hispanic Center has found that Latino immigrants assimilate and learn English just like every other group before them. Or even that the pint-sized mariachi crooner de la Cruz was born in Texas — the son of a U.S. Navy veteran.

This story has a happy ending. The San Antonio Spurs invited de la Cruz back a second time, to sing the National Anthem at game four of the NBA Finals. Everyone from President Barack Obama to “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria wished him well, and he nailed his encore performance.

With determination and confidence, young Sebastien triumphed over bigotry. What could be more American than that?

You can watch Sebastien de la Cruz singing the national anthem on YouTube.


Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City.
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

What Post-Racial America?

It will take more than President Barack Obama’s tenure to vanquish American prejudice and racial injustice.

— by Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins

image

Having an African-American president is convenient. It boosts U.S. credibility in the Global South and makes us look like we’re making progress toward wiping out racism when we’re not.

But it will take more than President Barack Obama’s tenure to vanquish American prejudice and racial injustice. Four years after he took office, it remains perilous to be black or brown. Racial profiling remains rampant. Schools are, if anything, becoming even more segregated. The Voting Rights Act, under attack at the Supreme Court, is as necessary as ever.

And our growing poverty falls most heavily, as usual, on people of color.

Obama didn’t personally cause this decline. He surely craves its reversal as much as the rest of us. But how much political capital can a black president afford to spend on trying to turn around social prejudices in an all-too-racist society? Not much, it seems.

image

New York and Chicago police officers and Southern sheriffs may dominate as iconic perpetrators of stop-and-frisk and racial profiling, but for law enforcers everywhere, this tactic remains a national pastime. Since black and Latino drivers are pulled over out of proportion to their numbers, they face much more frequent arrest, even in San Francisco and other liberal bastions.

A recent ruling by a federal judge may, however, put a stop to New York City’s overzealous stop-and-frisk practices, which can have the same impact on pedestrians of color.

The once-dominant white majority now comprises just over half the nation’s public school students, yet school segregation remains entrenched. Consider what the Civil Rights Project, a research group based at the University of California, terms “intense segregation.” It’s becoming the norm at our public schools. Today, more than one-third of Latino and African-American students attend schools where whites comprise less than 10 percent of their classmates.

This kind of extreme segregation is far more common today for Latino children than it was in 1968. And more than one in seven African-American and Latino kids attend what the Civil Rights Project calls “apartheid” schools, where fewer than 1 percent of their classmates are white.

Unfortunately, traditional integration techniques won’t fix this entrenched problem.Boston’s public school system, for example, retains only 13 percent white students. How do you integrate that?

Meanwhile, the Boston-based group United for a Fair Economy reports that the nationwide incarceration rate is six times higher for blacks than whites, that blacks and Latinos endure a median family income only 57 percent as high as whites, and that African-American unemployment is roughly double the Caucasian rate.

You can’t run a successful society with such stark inequality.


Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut. OtherWords.org