tags: , Press Releases

#28: Your Quick Summary Of the Week From America’s Voice

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Just days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott publicly lamented that the state couldn’t shoot and kill migrants on sight at the southern border, a woman and two children tragically drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the state. They lost their lives just off an area of the border where Texas officials, in a dangerous and deliberate escalation by Abbott and his Operation Lone Star scheme, have blocked Border Patrol from entering and performing their duties, which includes rescuing migrants in crisis. Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Manager at AV, had warned that Texas’ anti-immigrant push was “fostering a dangerous climate,” an assessment that later proved tragically prophetic. But even after these deaths, Abbott has refused to rescind his order blocking border agents from the local park that gave them access to the river, a decision that could endanger even more lives. “After people have drowned, been injured and been targeted for violence in Texas, we shouldn’t become desensitized to how the state is treating our fellow human beings,” Carrillo said. “Observers with a conscience, whether Republican or Democrat, or in Texas or anywhere else should be able to view these deaths as tragic and preventable and a call to action to say ‘enough’ with the dehumanization of migrants and politicized stunts that get people killed.” Read more here.


In their weekly column, America’s Voice En Español Director Maribel Hastings and Spanish-language Advisor David Torres write about the drowning deaths of the migrant family in Texas, saying that “the tragedy highlights the fact that migrants are not numbers, but human beings with problems, worries, and aspirations, who decide to make the sometimes deadly decision of throwing themselves to the river at night, to see if they can arrive at what they consider the ‘Promised Land,’ the United States.” Hastings and Torres add: “[But] Abbott is one of the Republicans who has gone from rhetoric to cruel and dehumanizing action, sending migrants on buses and planes to cities run by Democrats; placing dangerous buoys and barbed wire in the Rio Grande; declaring that ‘the only thing that [his government is] not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border, because of course the Biden administration would charge us with murder’; and closing the border park in whose environs the tragedy on Friday occurred.” Their column was also published at a number of outlets including La OpiniónRadio Bilingüe and La Tribuna HispanaRead their column in English here and in Spanish here.


While the President called Congressional leaders to a White House meeting to plead for a supplemental budget package to fund our allies in Ukraine, including steep concessions to Republican nativists on immigration and asylum, the former President essentially vetoed any deal, telling Speaker Johnson not to compromise. Word is that a bipartisan Senate supplemental budget deal is about to be announced and we will get details on just how far the Democrats have gone to trade away protections under law for people fleeing violence and oppression to win over Republican votes to defend democracy in Ukraine. At America’s Voice, we reacted to Donald Trump’s effort to scuttle the deal by labeling him the de facto “House Speaker,” with Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas saying, “It is clear who gives the orders and who takes the orders in the House…This is not a policy negotiation, but a loyalty test driven by political dynamics.” AV continued to urge President Biden and Senators to stand strong against a bad deal on immigration that could facilitate Trump’s desire to purge millions and end asylum and other forms of legal immigration. Cárdenas said in a statement this week, “Let’s be clear, a Republican Party headed by Trump will not take immigration off the table no matter what Biden offers them. Republicans would rather divide and disinform than legislate and lead, and view immigration as a political issue to exploit rather than a policy issue to solve.” Read more here.


Republicans driving the impeachment of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are amplifying messages that right-wing terrorists have used as a justification for mass murders in the United States. The House Committee on Homeland Security is making the nation less secure by saying at the highest level of government that Mayorkas, a Jewish and Latino immigrant, is intentionally directing a hostile “invasion” by non-white immigrants to “replace” white Americans, which is precisely the argument used by the shooters in mass murders in Buffalo, El Paso and Pittsburgh, among other white nationalist terrorist incidents. Others are driving the message that the impeachment effort runs contrary to the Constitution, which it does, but AV is underscoring the danger. “The House Majority’s impeachment effort is an active threat to the nation’s public safety and democracy,” Cárdenas said before the latest hearing. “Yes, these impeachment hearings are a sham without evidence but they are also extremely dangerous political stunts. The GOP Majority is using their power to vociferously normalize and amplify conspiracy theories steeped in white nationalism and antisemitism that have inspired multiple deadly acts of terrorism. These are the terrible facts at the heart of this effort.” Read more here.


The new year kicked off with two historic wins for hundreds of thousands of immigrant families on opposite coasts of the nation. Following years of advocacy, California has expanded Medi-Cal, the state’s health care insurance for low-income residents, to 700,000 eligible undocumented immigrants who would otherwise qualify for the program. Not only is this humane policy, it’s effective public health policy, because a healthier population benefits everyone. It’s also a matter of fairness, treating taxpaying immigrants (to the tune of more than $3.6 billion in local and state taxes contributed annually!) the same as other Californians. In New Jersey, workers and advocates cheered the signing into law of the New Jersey Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which guarantees domestic workers their meal and rest breaks, a weekly day of rest, mandatory employment contracts, and as well as ensures protections against unscrupulous and abusive bosses, among numerous provisions. Many probably assume domestic workers were already guaranteed these basic labor rights, but they were deliberately excluded from federal labor laws decades ago. “It’s a very big win for us,” said domestic worker Sandy Castro. “It feels good to see it come to fruition after sacrificing so much time, so many days, to continue this fight.” Read more here.


David Bier, Associate Director of Immigration Studies at the Cato Institute, offered a must-watch takedown of Congressional Republicans’ dangerous embrace of “invasion” rhetoric, which they have over and over again wielded against immigrant communities. “James Madison said an invasion is an act of war,” Bier said during a House hearing this week. “So we know what a real invasion is.” Florida Rep. Maxwell Frost importantly noted this “invasion” rhetoric has been cited by racist mass killers who’ve carried out numerous domestic terror attacks across the U.S. Click here to watch and share Bier’s remarks calling out the GOP’s reckless embrace of “invasion” rhetoric.


The fight to defend our asylum system and values as a welcoming nation continues on. On Thursday, House Democrats, caucus leaders, and advocates braved the cold to hold a press conference, rally, and one-on-one meetings urging negotiators to reject any anti-immigrant compromises that would gut our asylum system, separate families, and send vulnerable people back to danger. “Let’s be clear: this is not a negotiation. It’s extortion,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair. “Republicans are choosing to hold Ukraine funding hostage in exchange for cruel, unworkable and permanent policy changes on immigration. They just want to shut down the border and shut down immigration.” For CASA member Ornela Medom, it was personal. “After having my life placed in danger I escaped Cameroon,” Medom said. “I have been calling Maryland my home for the last eight months after applying for asylum. But I cannot sit still hearing that the full asylum program is being decided in secret political negotiations.” We must stand with Medom – click here to tell your senator defend our asylum system and reject anti-immigrant proposals.

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