Manufacturing a crisis, targeting the vulnerable

Dear friend:

The last two weeks have illuminated a stark contrast of visions for America. One is of a country that is compassionate, welcoming, and draws strength from diversity. The other looks upon diversity as weakness, fears people who appear different in any way, and attempts to use the authority of government to target the vulnerable.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants. To use the language the administration uses, it is “the worst.”

Administration supporters, and even some well-meaning people, have tried to divert attention through “whataboutisms” – raising the legitimate critique about how administrations have steadily militarized the border and increased punitive measures on immigrants since the mid-1990s. But in the face of overwhelming evidence, including their own words, it is clear beyond any doubt that what the Trump administration is doing is unprecedented, and runs counter to our American values.

In April, the Trump administration implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting every single migrant who crosses at an unauthorized location. If the migrant crossed with a child, the child was taken away. Last week, that policy was reversed with an unnecessary executive order – not needed because the policy simply could have been ended with a phone call or instruction given by the President or the Attorney General. But now, this administration has exchanged one wrong for another. The zero tolerance policy is still in effect, and now children may be detained indefinitely with their parents. This is little better than separating children from their parents, as considerable evidence shows that housing children in detention facilities leads to long-term developmental, physical and mental harm. It is inhumane.

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Addressing the General Session at the convention. Click on the image to see the speech.

As I said at the Texas Democratic Party convention this weekend, it is time to recommit ourselves to a long-standing American ideal –that all immigrants are welcome, and should not treated like criminals, regardless of HOW they got here. We need smart, targeted enforcement that focuses on true criminal threats, not blended families and people who live and work here peacefully. What matters is what people do when they are here, not how they get here.

Immigrants have low rates of crime, high rates of entrepreneurship, and make our country great!

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ABOUT THAT CONVENTION

Outside the convention hall in Fort Worth, there is a statue of John F. Kennedy, who inspired a generation. Behind him is the quote: “A man may die, nation may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”

While it is important who the president is, the United States is about so much more than any one person. At its best, it builds governing structures around the revolutionary idea of universal human rights, which include individual freedom and equality under the law.

We have a bad president who with his every Tweet undermines the American ideal. We have a Congressional majority who for the most part has shown that they’re unwilling to stand up to him. With the mid-term elections coming, we can elect responsible leaders who will stand up against policies that run contrary to our fundamental values.

After all, our nation’s founders established a system of checks and balances, and it is the appropriate role of the Judicial and Legislative branches of government to provide checks and balances on the Executive branch.

No one branch of government can dictate to the others. And no one person can dictate to the country.

This goes for Texas as well, where we have a chance to add balance to the Texas Legislature, which has become so extreme in recent years that many there would rather spend precious legislative time fighting about who can use a public bathroom than do the hard work of funding education, which is the key to our future.

In Texas, we must stop throwing money at a border crisis that does not exist. We must fund education, and find a Texas Way to expand access to affordable health care.

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Chad Dunn presenting on redistricting during the Senate Democratic Caucus workshop

CENSUS, REDISTRICTING, VOTING

While the mid-term election is around the corner, we also have to think long-term. As required by our Constitution, the U.S. counts its population once every 10 years. The census serves as the basis for apportioning congressional seats and redistricting. In addition, census data determines how over $600 billion is distributed annually to states and local governments for critical programs, like schools, health care, roads, housing and job training. The stakes couldn’t be higher for Texas, which received $43.4 billion, the third highest allocation based on census-guided data.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is trying to hamstring the count. One way is by putting a citizenship question on the Census form; this is designed to limit participation.
The Senate Democratic Caucus, which I chair, hosted a workshop designed to provide information and develop actions about the census, redistricting, and voter engagement.

About one hundred people heard leading state experts describe the challenges and opportunities in each area.

Regarding the Census, the most important thing you can do is stay on top of your local entities – the city and county, for example – to make sure they are developing Complete Count Committees. You can find more information here about resources and actions.
Redistricting flows from the Census numbers. We all know that Texas is one of the worst states when it comes to drawing districts that minimize minority voters. In fact, it has been in court following census-driven redistricting in every decade since 1970.
When it comes to voting, the worst rates are among those who should be participating to ensure their future, young voters. The state requires that high schools provide an opportunity to register to vote for eligible students, but that doesn’t always happen. My office has created a model through the non-partisan Student Voter Initiative to engage and register eligible high school students. We look forward to more schools around the state participating!

BACK IN EL PASO

The community continues to show its outrage over the draconian border policies of this administration, and people from all over the country have joined in. Below are some images that capture the convention, and the events in El Paso.

It is a privilege and honor to represent District 29. Remember, you can engage with the office through our District Advisory Committees. Schedules for those and other community events can be found at my Facebook Event Page.

As always, I encourage your letters, emails, and phone calls. You can contact my office by clicking here.

Sincerely,

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Addressing the Labor Caucus on behalf of Beto O’Rourke

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Youth rally against gun violence

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Wendy Davis Still F*& Standing event with special guest former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

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Standing ovation after youth-led address on gun violence

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Oscar Silva, Battleground Texas political director, and an El Paso native whose parents are pastors, Sunday at Tornillo.

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