Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Tejano Insider

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Republicans Make Effort to Woo Black Voters

By Brian DeBose

Blacks in both major political parties have felt "marginalized" for decades, but Republicans hope a new strategy will help them reach out to black voters and politicians.

Raymond Telles First Hispanic Mayor Turns 90 - Tejanos Thank You For Your Service

Telles will celebrate his 90th birthday Sept. 5 with family on the West Coast. He still looks like a well-dressed diplomat with an American flag pin on his lapel.

Telles is, in the eyes of his admirers, the symbol of dignity, El Paso's outstanding elder statesman, the Mexican-American leader who gave his gente a voice in politics.

Telles is best known as the first Mexican-American mayor of a major city in the Southwest, long before Henry Cisneros in San Antonio and Federico Peña in Denver.

He challenged the political circles dominated by Anglos in El Paso in the 1940s and 1950s and disproved the notion that Mexican-Americans could not be elected to public office or effectively run a city.

Telles was one of the highest- ranking Mexican-Americans in the federal government in the 1960s. He became a close friend of John F. Kennedy and part of the president's inner circle of advisers.

He once escorted Kennedy to El Paso and had been scheduled to travel to Dallas with Kennedy, who had decided to appoint him ambassador to Mexico.

Mario T. Garcia describes Telles' election as the first Mexican-American mayor of El Paso in 1957 as a groundbreaking event in the history of El Paso and in the history of Mexican-American and Latino politics in the United States.

The rest of the story by the El Paso Times is here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

GOP Now Calling Itself 'The Party of Ideas.' Problem Is, Most of Them Are Bad Ideas

By Joe Rothstein

Many restaurants try to attract customers by posting the words, "home cooking" in their windows.

My very wise, late mother-in-law used to warn us that, "home cooking" is not necessarily a positive recommendation for where to eat. "Depends on whose home it is," she used to say.

Lately, Republicans have been trying to attract customers by referring to themselves as the "party of ideas." But as with home cooking, "ideas" is a neutral word until you look carefully into the pot to see what's cooking.

Just to run through a few ideas the Republicans have advanced this year, and other years since they became dominant:

---The idea that Social Security should no longer be a government program, but that it should morph over time into a managed relationship between you and whoever is privately managing your retirement accounts.

---The idea that we should shrink the size of government and outsource as many of its functions as possible to the private sector.

---The idea that the state governments should not get in the way of the federal government on many important issues.

---The idea that even though nearly half the voters voted for Democratic candidates in 2004, big decisions should be made inside the Republican caucus without negotiating a bi-partisan consensus.

---The idea that energy independence for the U.S. can best be achieved by giving huge tax breaks to big oil companies.

This is a short and very arbitrary list. But I think it's fairly representative of where the "idea" party is taking us.

The recently-enacted energy bill gives billions to the most profitable industry in America as "incentives" to search for and develop more oil and gas resources. This was the result of the Republican idea that $65 a barrel oil simply wasn't enough incentive on its own.

The energy bill also makes it difficult for states and localities to stop high-powered transmission lines from going where states and localities might not want them. Ditto with highly volatile liquid natural gas facilities. Earlier in the year the Bush administration fought and won a battle in court to override the wishes of state voters who wanted to legalize the use of medical marijuana. The Republicans' new idea seems to be to trash states' rights when they stand in the way of tighter control from the White House.

On Social Security "reform," the idea on which President has spent so much time and political capital, don't count the issue out just because of widespread public opposition. As we know by now, once the President convinces himself that he's right, he doesn't abandon a campaign. Fundamentally changing Social Security is one of the Republicans' biggest ideas, and it's coming back for a re-run early next year.

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently graded America's infrastructure---highways, bridges, water and sewer systems, schools, etc.---and gave the whole public works sector a D. The engineers' estimate is that we need $1.6 trillion invested in the country's crumbling infrastructure over the next 5 years just to bring it up to a safe and acceptable standard.

Meanwhile, the Republican idea is to continue to cut taxes so that the country won't be able to afford to pay for its most basic requirements. You have to go back 25 years (when Carter was President) to find corporate tax receipts as a percentage of GDP as low as they are today.

I watched a news clip of President Bush signing the new highways bill. He told his partisan audience that the bill was fiscally responsible because the gas tax wasn't increased to pay for the roads. No, it wasn't. The nearly $300 billion tab will be paid with money the federal government borrows, which makes it the most expensive way to build and repair our roads. President Bush's idea of fiscal responsibility is to add more debt to the national burden.

The idea of transferring government jobs to the private sector is in full flower. No better example of it is the no-bid, sweetheart contract the Defense Department gave Halliburton to peel potatoes, provide gas for vehicles, handle our troops' laundry, and provide other services once performed by government workers. So far these contracts amount to $12 billion and rising fast. And all along the way Halliburton has been nailed for cheating our troops on the firing line.

The President and the Republicans are full of ideas. We've watched as those ideas have been unwrapped over the past few years and tossed into the stew that we call the Republican agenda.

The aroma is not inviting. The taste we've had already is hard to swallow.

As my late mother-in-law said, it depends whose home is doing the cooking.

Joe Rothstein, editor of USPoliticstoday.com, is a former daily newspaper editor and long-time national political strategist based in Washington, D.C.

Carlos Guerra: Latest base closures will bring more pain to Coastal Bend

Carlos Guerra, one of the best observers of Tejanos and their political circumstances, comments on the effect the Ingleside closing will have on South Texas, but most particularly Corpus Christi. Read his commentary here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

USA Today: Mexicans Feel Strong Pull To USA

By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY

More than 40% of Mexican adults say they would move to the USA if they could, and one in five say they would do so illegally if necessary, according to surveys released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Surveys of 1,200 Mexican adults in February and 1,200 in May, conducted in their homes, show that Mexicans' rising education levels have not weakened the desire to live and work in this country.

More than a third of Mexican college graduates say they would come to the USA if they could, and more than one in eight would do so even if they had to enter the country illegally, according to the surveys, the first of their kind.

"Contrary to what people might expect, the inclination to migrate isn't contained among Mexicans who are poor or poorly educated or with limited economic prospects," says Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, a non-partisan research group in Washington. "They're distributed across the whole breadth of Mexican society."

Mexicans' willingness to come is driven by a desire to improve their economic status and join friends and family already in the USA, Suro says.

Despite improvements in the Mexican economy, "people with college degrees believe they have greater economic opportunities by migration to the U.S. — even illegally — than they would staying at home," Suro says. Mexicans are coming from richer, urban areas as well as poor, rural regions, he says.

The survey comes at a time when President Bush and Democratic and Republican leaders are calling for changes in U.S. immigration policy. The biggest issue: what to do about the estimated 11 million or more people here illegally.

"The president supports comprehensive immigration reform that addresses border security, enforcement and the economic demand for willing workers," White House spokeswoman Erin Healy says.

Some members of Congress, such as Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., say immigrants here illegally should go back to their native countries to apply to enter the USA legally. Others, such as Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., say that isn't practical.

"People are simply not going to sign up ... to be deported with no guarantee of coming back again," says Michele Waslin, director of immigration policy research at the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanics.

More than half of Mexicans say they would be inclined to come if the United States established a temporary worker program.

Pew's June survey of Latinos in the USA found that 68% say illegal immigrants help the economy by providing low-cost labor rather than drive wages down.

But the survey shows a difference between the attitudes of Hispanics born here and those of Latino immigrants. For example, 60% of U.S.-born Hispanics support laws that require people to show proof of citizenship or legal residency before they can get driver's licenses. Only 29% of foreign-born Latinos feel that way.

More immigrants come here from Mexico (population 106 million) than any other country. An estimated 10 million Mexicans now live here, more than half illegally, Suro says.

"Millions of people are going to keep coming every decade unless we restrict it," says Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that favors strict enforcement of immigration laws. "That's the bottom line."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

AP: U.S. Hispanics Divided on Immigrant Issues

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 16, 9:28 AM ET

A majority of Hispanics born in the United States don't think illegal Hispanic immigrants should be given drivers' licenses, according to a new poll.

Most foreign-born Hispanics disagree, according to the polling for the Pew Hispanic Center.

Six in 10 Hispanics born in this country approve of measures to prohibit illegal immigrants from getting drivers' licenses, while two-thirds born in another country disapprove of such measures.

The difference between foreign-born Hispanics and native-born Hispanics on the driver's license issue highlights the disparity between the two groups on several issues.

Foreign-born Hispanics take a more positive view than native-born Hispanics on whether immigrants strengthen the United States. Almost nine in 10 foreign-born Hispanics say immigrants strengthen the country, while two-thirds of Hispanics born in the United States feel that way, according to the poll.

"Among Latinos in the United States, there's a majority that views immigrants favorably, but there is a significant minority concerned about unauthorized immigration into the country and its impact," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

Two-thirds of Hispanics in the U.S. said undocumented migrants help the economy by providing low-cost labor. Again, foreign-born Hispanics were more upbeat about the impact of undocumented migrants than those born in this country.

Most Hispanics feel the number of immigrants coming in the country should stay the same or be reduced, with only a third saying the numbers should increase, according to the poll done for Pew and another done for Time Magazine.

Three-fourths in a Time poll of 503 Hispanic adults said people in the United States illegally are taking jobs that U.S. citizens don't want. The Time poll was taken from July 28 to Aug. 3.

The Pew study also looked at how Mexicans feel about trying to get into the United States.

Almost half of Mexicans, 46 percent, surveyed in May said they would go to the U.S. if they could. About two in five said they would be inclined to go live and work in the U.S. without authorization.

"The desire to migrate is not a phenomenon of the poor and poorly educated," Suro said. "The inclination to migrate is powerful in the middle class in Mexico, even those with college educations say they would go to the United States if they could."

The survey of Hispanics in the United States was conducted for the Pew Hispanic Center from June 14-27 by ICR and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. In Mexico, Pew surveyed 1,200 adults in May and the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

State Rep. Martinez Fischer and TDP Chair Soechting in War of Words

Steve Taylor's Rio Grande Guardian reports that State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer and Texas Democratic Party State Chair Charles Soecting are feuding over the Party's efforts to reach out to Hispanics in Texas.

Martinez Fischer has leveled accusations against Soechting that the State Party is not doing enough to court Latino voters and has left Latino leaders out of developing and employing the Party's outreach strategy.

Soechting has responded to the representative's widely circulated letter by insisting that Martinez Fischer is misinformed about the Party's efforts.

For the full story visit www.riograndeguardian.com.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Soechting says He's Intrigued by the Idea of Texas Democrats Staging Presidential Caucus

Rio Grande Guardian
by Steve Taylor

AUSTIN - State Democratic Party Chair Charles Soechting says he is intrigued by the possibility of Texas playing as a big a role as Iowa and New Hampshire when it comes to picking the president of the United States.

Soechting said he wanted to learn more about plans to stage presidential election caucus in late January or early February 2008. The idea has been floated by two leading Hispanics in the party, state Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, national spokesman for the Mexican American Democrats, and state Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, a former chair of the Tejano Democrats.

"I'm all for anything that makes Texas more relevant in the presidential elections," Soechting told the Guardian Friday. "I'd certainly like to see the Texas primary moved up to a point where we lead the nation."

Following complaints from U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and others that Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary voters were not representative of Democratic voters generally, and minority voters in particular, the Democratic National Committee set up the 40-member Commission on Presidential Timing and Scheduling.

The commission is due to give recommendations to Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean in December.

Two members of the commission, U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Ca., and Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Figueroa, assistant political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have said they would get behind the Texas caucus plan if the state party were united.

Under the plan being floated by Alonzo and Peña, first revealed by the Guardian Thursday, the State Democratic Party would sandwich a presidential caucus in between the Iowa presidential caucus in late January 2008 and the New Hampshire presidential primary in early February 2008.

Moving the primary from its traditional slot in March would require legislation, something Republican leaders may be loath to do. No taxpayer dollars would be used in administering the caucus, however, which would be run solely by the state party. Texas' primary election would continue to be run by the Secretary of State's office in March. While the cost to the Democratic Party would rise appreciably, so would national attention.

Alonzo and Peña believe that holding a caucus at the beginning of the presidential election campaign would force candidates to address issues important to Hispanic voters. Soechting said he agreed.

"Iowa and New Hampshire do not provide a terribly good indication of who's going to be elected president," Soechting said. "Texas is far more representative of the nation as a whole."

Soechting said he was convinced that under the leadership of Dean, the DNC would pay much more attention to the needs of Texas Democrats. Dean has promised to fund a four full-time organizers in the state, three of which will be Hispanic.

Soechting said he planned to meet with Alonzo next week to learn more about the caucus plan. He said he wanted to do the same with Peña.

"I have great admiration for Aaron and Roberto. I'm looking forward to sitting down and learning a whole lot more about their plan," Soechting said.

May God Bless The Families of Our Soldiers

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hispanic Leaders want Texas Voters to Pick their Democratic Presidential Nominee in a January Caucus

The Rio Grande Guardian
by Steve Taylor

AUSTIN - On the day Texas officially became the nation's fourth majority-minority state, Hispanic Democratic leaders announced plans to get presidential candidates to pay more attention to their state.

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, national spokesman for the Mexican American Democrats, and state Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, a former chair of the Tejano Democrats, say they are considering moves to have a presidential election caucus in January 2008.

The caucus, run and paid for by the Texas Democratic Party, would be sandwiched between the Iowa presidential caucus and the New Hampshire presidential primary.

"I think this is an opportunity that we need to seize," Alonzo said. "It is true that we in Texas are not talked about or dealt with by the presidential candidates or the national media. Having a presidential election caucus in January would put us on the front burner."

Following complaints from U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and others that Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary voters were not representative of Democratic voters generally, and minority voters in particular, the Democratic National Committee set up the 40-member Commission on Presidential Timing and Scheduling.

The commission is due to give recommendations to Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean in December.

Peña met with two members of the commission - U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Ca., and Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Figueroa, assistant political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - at a DNC-sponsored Hispanic Leadership Summit in San Antonio over the weekend.

"My interests are to advance the interests of Texas, it's not so much a Democratic or Republican issue," Peña said. "I want more attention coming to Texas in the presidential process. As it now stands, by the time of the Texas primary, things have already been decided. We want our presidential and vice-presidential candidates to show more interest in Texas and where it is going."

Under the caucus plan, the Texas Democratic Party would conduct a presidential election caucus in each county of the state in January. No taxpayer dollars would be used. The Texas primary election would continue to be run by the Secretary of State's office in March. While the cost to the Democratic Party would rise appreciably, so would national attention.

Solis said that if the Texas Democratic Party and its affiliated organizations like Tejano Democrats and Mexican American Democrats got behind the caucus plan, she would support it. Solis said she was encouraged by the enthusiasm of Hispanic Democrats she met at the San Antonio summit. She said the DNC should do all it could to help bring Texas into play for the Democrats nationally.

"It does sound rather enticing to have Texas involved," Solis said. "We clearly do not have enough diversity, whether it be the African American, Hispanic or Asian American populations, in New Hampshire or Iowa."

Solis said holding a caucus in January in Texas would force presidential candidates to "start talking about issues that resonate with minorities."

Solis said that too often presidential candidates treat Texas and California like ATM machines. "They don't go out into the barrios or the community and rally the troops," Solis said. "We need a visibility and investment in minority communities that is ongoing all the way through to the November election."

Figueroa pointed to the extra excitement and voter turnout shown when the New Mexico Democratic Party held its presidential election caucus in February 2004. In previous presidential years, the state held its primary in June. All the presidential candidates visited New Mexico before the caucus election, and the University of New Mexico held the only Latino presidential debate of the election.

"The idea of having a Texas Democratic Party presidential caucus in January is not as crazy as it seems," Figueroa said. "All the tides are moving in that direction. This is a golden opportunity to get Texas on the radar map of presidential politics."

Figueroa said he could not see the commission recommending a lessening of the impact of the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary because both states are in play in a presidential general election. Figueroa said there was a lot to be said for the retail-style politics that the two states generate. However, he said there appeared to be consensus among commission members for one other state to have its election moved up to January.

Figueroa said it was easy to see why Republicans were making inroads into the traditionally Democratic Hispanic vote. Figueroa said a large percentage of the Hispanic vote is in the big five states - California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. Of these, only Florida gets any attention in the primary or general election.

"It's pretty obvious to me what is going on. We're not talking to the Hispanic community," Figueroa said. He said another advantage of having an early caucus in Texas was that the state comprised rural and urban communities. "Our candidates would be battle-tested," he said.

Figueroa said that for a Texas January caucus to be considered by the commission, a proposal by the State Democratic Party would have to be submitted in time for the commission's next meeting in October.

Statesman: U.S. Lawmaker Calls for Government-Supported Volunteer Group

By Chuck Lindell

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Frustrated by a government that seems unable to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants, a Houston Republican has introduced legislation creating a civilian volunteer militia to patrol the nation's borders, armed with arrest power, guns and the approval to use "any force necessary."

Commanded by Gov. Rick Perry and other border-state governors, the Border Protection Corps would add another line of defense against terrorists, smugglers and gangs eager to prey upon the United States, U.S. Rep. John Culberson said.

Critics accused Culberson of fueling anti-immigrant attitudes with an impractical and potentially dangerous idea, but the three-term congressman said national security trumps all other concerns.

"My constituents and I are just flat fed up, and we need action immediately to prevent terrorists and other criminals from crossing over to the United States," Culberson said.

Filed shortly before Congress began its August recess and endorsed by three Austin-area GOP colleagues, Culberson's legislation reflects a change in the immigration debate, one that focuses on domestic security instead of the economic and social repercussions of a large, undocumented work force.

The Border Protection Corps Act also highlights disagreements among Republicans, who have filed almost 20 often-competing immigration bills this year in an uncommon lack of cohesion for a party that holds the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress.

Still, the focus on national security allows cultural conservatives and law-and-order Republicans to drive the debate, strengthening the hand of those seeking a tougher response to illegal immigration, said James Hollifield, director of the John Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University.

"That has changed significantly, if not radically, since the end of Cold War. In the 1960s to the 1980s, if you wanted to reform immigration policy, you needed a coalition of civil rights Democrats and Wall Street Republicans," Hollifield said. "Now the whole immigration debate is tangled up with a national security debate."

Critics dismiss national security concerns as a smokescreen hiding racist or anti-immigrant attitudes, and civil rights groups and several Democrats have labeled Culberson's militia idea as unworkable.

"The border is way too dangerous to leave it to amateurs," said U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in the McAllen and El Paso sectors.

"The atmosphere it would create, the potential for violating people's civil rights, the fact that these individuals . . . may not understand the culture, the areas, the overall challenge that they're facing — I don't think it's anything you want to even entertain at this point," he said.

Reyes advocates hiring more Border Patrol agents, who are trained in the complexities of immigration law and required to speak Spanish, stipulations not included in the militia bill.

But Culberson said desperate times require desperate measures, such as creating a volunteer patrol inspired by the controversial Minuteman Project, which is seeking to expand into Texas after sending volunteers into the Arizona desert to deter illegal border crossings.

"If they haven't already entered the country, terrorists will enter the country and hurt us far worse than they did on September 11, with simultaneous attacks on U.S. cities," Culberson said. "And they will mock us as they announce to the world that they simply walked over our southern border, and we allowed them to do it."

The U.S. Constitution, under Section 8 of Article 1, authorizes Congress to call up a militia "to execute the laws of the Union" and authorize money to arm and train its members.

Culberson said the program would tap $6.8 billion in unspent Department of Homeland Security first-responder grants. However, agency spokesman Steven Llanes, said, that money has been allocated to the states. "It's not sitting here in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Members of a border militia would be sanctioned and financed by the federal government and allowed to arrest and detain suspected illegal aliens in states bordering Mexico and Canada, Culberson said.

Volunteers would have to be U.S. citizens and have no criminal record or history of mental illness. The rest — training, equipment, compensation for travel and lodging — would be left to each governor's office.

"I'm absolutely confident that you would see tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Americans step up and help on a part-time or full-time basis," Culberson said. "There are 237,000-plus concealed carry permit holders in Texas. I can only imagine how many thousands of retired or part-time law enforcement and military personnel would be ready, willing and able to help."

Though critics dismiss Culberson's numbers as unrealistic, 47 Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors, including U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin, John Carter of Round Rock and Lamar Smith of San Antonio, whose district includes most of downtown Austin.

"There is a growing concern in America over how porous the borders are," Smith said. "Clearly, there is a need for this. Clearly, the government is unable or unwilling to devote the personnel and resources necessary to secure the borders."

Perry, who thinks that border security is a federal, not a state, responsibility, issued a lukewarm statement on Culberson's bill (HR 3622).

"I welcome federal efforts to protect our borders from illegal immigration and threats from terrorists," Perry said. "Regardless of the mechanism, the federal government must provide a stronger presence along the border."

Perry's lack of enthusiasm won't help the bill's future, already made difficult by the GOP's lack of consensus on immigration. Still, Culberson said he has received "a very strong, positive response, and I am going to use every legislative and political power at my disposal to pass this into law."

Will Harrell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, called Culberson's approach irrespons- ible.

"These are elected officials who wish to foment anti-immigrant sentiment to further their own electoral goals. This is not good public policy. This is strictly political fodder," he said.

"I wish the people would wake up one morning and go to the grocery store and imagine 60 percent of the produce gone. If our borders were actually shut, which never has happened and never will happen, the reality is, our economy and our way of life would come to a halt," Harrell said.

Culberson denied harboring any motivation other than securing the nation's borders.

"The FBI director testified, under oath, that individuals from countries with al Qaeda connections are assuming false Hispanic identities and entering the United States by hiding among the flood of illegal aliens coming across our border," Culberson said.

"The situation along the border is nearly out of control, and we have a long and honorable tradition in Texas of citizens stepping up to fill the breach," he said.

AP: Texas Now Minority Majority State

By Alicia A. Caldwell

Thursday, August 11, 2005

EL PASO -- With a growing Hispanic population, Texas has joined three other states and the District of Columbia as a majority-minority state, according to population estimates to be released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hispanics are now the largest minority group in California, New Mexico and Texas. In Hawaii, Asian Americans are the largest minority, and in the nation's capital, African Americans are.

According to population estimates based on the 2000 census, about 50.2 percent of Texans are minorities. In the 2000 census, minorities accounted for about 47 percent of the nation's second-most populous state.

Five other states -- Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York and Arizona -- aren't far behind, with about 40 percent minorities. African Americans and Hispanics are the largest minority groups in those states.

While a state demographer said the new estimates should be no surprise, public policy analysts said these states, and the country as a whole, need to raise the level of minority education and professional achievement. Otherwise, these areas risk becoming poorer and less competitive in the world market.

With the nation's under-18 minority population already nearing that of Anglos of the same age group, the nation should be more than half minorities by 2050, said Steve Murdock, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Recent data showed that 42 percent of U.S. residents under 18 are minorities, compared with 58 percent for Anglos.

Lawmakers need to start with immigration reform, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"Immigration is good for the United States. . . . It's important for us to keep our doors open, but we need to keep an eye on the people coming in," Frey said. "While initially it will be a state problem, eventually it will be a national issue, and education is the best way to deal with it."

Frey said bringing minorities' education and salary levels in line with those of Anglos should be a top priority, and it's an effort that needs federal support.

This demographic shift, which Frey and other experts attribute to Hispanic immigration, could also lead to more bilingual education. The demand already exists and is not being addressed, said Tatcho Mindiola, director of the University of Houston's Center for Mexican American Studies.

Mindiola said the country should also expect to see a political shift, which probably would include more Hispanics running for public office at all levels of government.

Complications from the cultural shift aren't likely to be exclusive to states that have majority-minority populations, Frey said.

Nevada, for instance, has seen a massive influx of minorities in the past 15 years, reducing the percentage of Anglos since the 1990s from nearly 80 percent to about 60 percent.

Officials in states like Nevada will quickly have to figure out "how immigrant populations and an aging white population can be served at the same time," Frey said.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dean Suggests That 2008 Presidential Primary May Be Tinkered With -- Texas Connection?

Here is a little teaser of things to come here in Texas. Other insiders are telling us that one of our former state Tejano Democrats Chairmen is working with a former state chairman of the Mexican American Democrats along with individuals connected to the DNC to explore the possibility of moving the Presidential caucus for Texas Democrats.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hispanic Summit a Huge Success

Monday, August 08, 2005

Los Angeles Times: "Friends, Foes Made Over Trade Deal"

The Los Angeles Times covers the story of the congressional CAFTA 15 which a number of politicos were talking about at the Hispanic Summit. Word from labor leaders at the Summit and from this Times story is that the Texas 3 need to start looking over their shoulders because organized labor is gunning for them.

Here is the story in full:


By Warren Vieth, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — No sooner had Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) cast his vote in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement than anti-CAFTA activists started plotting their revenge.

Labor unions began calling members in Cuellar's southwest Texas district and planning a protest outside his San Antonio office. Opponents of the pact finalized plans to launch a door-to-door, bilingual canvassing effort sometime around Labor Day. "Our intent is to expose the myths he expounds that trade is good for Latinos in his district," said Debbie Russell, who is directing the campaign for the Texas Fair Trade Coalition.

Although President Bush signed CAFTA into law Tuesday, ending a long battle for ratification, recriminations might only be beginning for some lawmakers who voted for the trade pact.

Cuellar is one of about two dozen House members targeted by trade critics, labor unions and political activists for helping Bush secure his razor-thin CAFTA victory. The targeted lawmakers include Democrats who bucked party leaders by voting for the agreement and Republicans who supported it despite heavy opposition from labor, textile or sugar interests in their districts.

Among them is Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), who was distressed to learn he was the first House member singled out on a website that promised to document how pro-CAFTA votes like his had hurt constituents. "I didn't betray anyone," Meeks protested in a phone interview.

Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) — who changed his vote from no to yes after intense last-minute lobbying — has issued a flurry of announcements to counter efforts by opponents to stir up trouble in his district.

Cuellar's vote for CAFTA, along with his support for other legislation backed by Bush, has made him the United Steelworkers of America's top target for 2006.

"It's a disgrace for him to vote that way, as many poor, working-class people as live in that district," Chuck Rocha, the union's national political director, said as he was heading to San Antonio to organize anti-Cuellar activities.

Cuellar was making the rounds of communities in his district to discuss the trade pact and other issues. He said he would weather the storm.

"If those groups want to call attention to my CAFTA vote, I say go ahead," Cuellar said. "What they're going to find out is the more people know about my vote, the more votes I'm going to get."

The Senate approved CAFTA by a comfortable margin in late June, but the trade deal barely survived a showdown in the House on July 28. With the result in doubt, Republican leaders held the vote open for more than an hour instead of the usual allotted 15 minutes. Several members withheld their yes votes until the last minute, and three switched sides after initially voting no.

In the end, the trade pact passed 217 to 215.

CAFTA opponents and political activists said last week that they still were discussing the extent of reprisals. But their initial targets included many of the "CAFTA 15" — Democrats who voted for the trade pact — and as many as a dozen Republicans who had been expected to vote against it but switched sides.

"It's going to be very painful for the members who committed to voting against CAFTA but switched," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, an advocacy group that opposed CAFTA. "I think we're going to see equalopportunity, bipartisan accountability and retribution."

Opponents said they planned to publicize the defections, withhold future campaign contributions and work to defeat vulnerable incumbents in next year's elections. On Capitol Hill, there was talk among lawmakers of retribution against members who abandoned their parties, including the possible loss of key committee assignments.

The president's allies rushed to the defense of House members who might have endangered their careers by backing CAFTA. The National Assn. of Manufacturers said it was encouraging its members to help the "CAFTA 15" Democrats as well as Republicans whose yes votes were unpopular in their districts.

One of Bush's top legislative priorities for 2005, CAFTA will lower trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Its effect on the U.S. economy is expected to be modest. But the trade accord became a focal point of public and congressional dissatisfaction about the effects of globalization on jobs and living standards of Americans.

"Voters equate CAFTA with NAFTA, and that is a trade policy that cost many of these districts tens of thousands of jobs," said Sarah Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

After the House vote, committee activists contacted media outlets in the districts of more than 20 potentially vulnerable Republican lawmakers, Feinberg said.

Mike Mathis, government affairs director for the Teamsters Union, said leaders of several big unions were still discussing what to do about House members who had been backed by labor but voted for the trade pact. "I know that in the short term, there certainly won't be any money going out from the Teamsters to the people who voted wrong on this," Mathis said.

Cuellar became a focal point of wrath after the pact's ratification partly because he was the first House Democrat to break with his party and declare support for the trade agreement.

A former Texas secretary of State, he had previously angered some Democrats by voting for bills backed by Bush to revamp bankruptcy law and limit class-action lawsuits. "We have somebody there who we're not even sure is a real Democrat," said Rocha of the steelworkers union. "We've got to get rid of this guy while he's still a freshman, while we can."

Russell, the Texas Fair Trade Coalition organizer, said she planned to hire bilingual canvassers to go door-to-door in Cuellar's district, in San Antonio and Laredo.

Cuellar said his opponents were mischaracterizing CAFTA's potential impact on his district, which includes the Port of Laredo on the Rio Grande. "It creates jobs in my district, and I'm going to support any legislation that does that," he said.

The Internet site targeting CAFTA supporters was launched last week by Wallach's group, Global Trade Watch, which began posting critiques of lawmakers who voted for the agreement after either promising or suggesting strongly that they would oppose it.

The first two members to make the list were Meeks and Hayes.

Meeks said he had voted for the pact because he was convinced it would not only create jobs in his district, which includes Kennedy International Airport, but also would help lift the citizens of Central America out of poverty.

Hayes, the North Carolina Republican, initially voted against CAFTA when the roll was called, but he switched sides. He said he did so after receiving calls on the House floor from textile makers who favored ratification and securing promises from administration officials to help his district.

In recent days, his office has issued a series of announcements portraying Hayes as a leader in efforts to crack down on alleged trading abuses and currency manipulation by China, and suggesting he was promised a role in formulating future trade policy in return for his vote.

After administration officials announced plans last week to seek a broad agreement with China on textile imports, Hayes thanked them for honoring their pledge "with such quick follow-up."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hispanic Party Chair to Ask DNC to Monitor State Democratic Party

The Democrat who has organized national party Chair Howard Dean's Rally in the Valley Friday wants the DNC to closely monitor the financially-strapped State Democratic Party. Juan Maldonado, chair of Hidalgo County Democratic Party, said he would use Dean's visit to press for changes in the way the State Democratic Party is run, particularly with regard to Hispanic outreach.

Maldonado said it was "unfathomable" how a party that claims to be inclusive towards Hispanics would not have one Hispanic employed at the state party office nor have a recognizable Hispanic outreach program.

"Those guys running the state party level do not know what they are doing," Maldonado said. "The state party is in great financial difficulty and I am going to ask that the Democratic National Committee keep an eye on them. We need an overhaul."

At its executive committee meeting last month, the state party agreed to offload high-paid consultants rather than lay off full-time staff. State Democratic Party Treasurer Miguel Wise told the Guardian at the time that if the party was to survive, the next several months had to be geared towards all out fundraising.

Dean will speak at 10 am at a Democratic rally in the Jeffers Theater on the University of Texas-Pan American campus. He will then travel to San Antonio for a Hispanic Leadership Summit taking place Aug. 5-7 at the Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Maldonado said he viewed the San Antonio event as a "good first step" for Hispanic activists in the party to network and strategize for the 2006 statewide elections. "We are going to get a lot more organized as the year goes on," Maldonado said. "We need to find good quality Hispanic candidates for the statewide elections in 2006."

Maldonado also welcomed Dean's presence in the Valley. "Howard Dean's visit is of critical importance as we all work to get Democrats elected to public office to stand up for the issues people care about most: quality and affordable healthcare, educational opportunities, a secure retirement, and job opportunities," Maldonado said.

Moses Mercado, deputy executive director for intergovernmental affairs for the DNC, has spent the past two days in the Valley coordinating Dean's trip and listening to party activists. Mercado, who grew up in Donna, said the visit showed Dean's commitment to a 50-state strategy. "The 13-state strategy is no longer in play," Mercado said.

Mercado pointed to a congressional election in Ohio this week where the Democratic candidate came within 4,000 votes of winning a district that voted 64 percent for Bush in 2004. "From now on, we are going to show up everywhere," Mercado said. "And, if ever we are going to win again in Texas, we have to show up in places like the Valley and El Paso, which are heavily Democratic."

Mercado said he was aware of grassroots dissatisfaction with the state Democratic leadership. He acknowledged that state party infrastructure across the country was "not in as good a shape as we want it to be." He said every member of the party had to shoulder responsibility.

"We have a very vibrant party in Hidalgo County and a great leader in Juan Maldonado, but we are not so lucky in other parts of the state," Mercado said. "We know we must do better. You can teach people to organize but you cannot teach people to win."

Mercado said he sensed renewed interest in the Democratic message in Red State America, pointing to a rally in Mississippi recently that drew 900 party supporters.

Mercado said outreach to minority voters would be improved through the DNC's hiring of at least four full-time organizers. He said that South Texas and El Paso would be key areas for assistance.

"We are going to work the State Party Chair Charles Soechting to ensure diversity in the hires," Mercado said.

Jose Angel Gutierrez, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, has studied the Texas Democratic Party and its Hispanic outreach efforts for many years.

In the old days, Gutierrez said, Democratic leaders simply funded and reinforced the 'patron' system, whereby money was doled out to political bosses. "The trouble with that is that the patrons would only take care of those that were on their list. New voters or those belonging to other groups were never looked after," he said.

Today, the problem was even worse, Gutierrez said, because next to no money was coming into the Texas Democratic Party. "This state is written off as Bush Country, but there are still members of Congress to elect," Gutierrez said. "If you look at the returns you will see Texas is not all Bush Country. The party needs to spend money in expanding the non-Bush Country, such as the border and the inner cities."

Gutierrez said that too often, the Democratic Party looked no different than the Republican Party. "When they are in a bind, they try to out-Republican the Republicans. It will never work," he said.

Gutierrez said an example of the state party not promoting good quality Hispanic candidates could be seen in 2002, when Linda Yañez ran for Texas Supreme Court. "The party leadership failed to get behind a competitive and excellent candidate," Gutierrez said. "They just ignored her."

Gutierrez said another example of poor leadership was an arbitrary decision at the 2004 state party convention to "shut out many black and brown" delegates. "The composition of the delegation clearly did not reflect who votes in the Democratic primary," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said Dean's concentration on Hispanic Texas was a "step in the right direction." He said the rally in Edinburg, along with the San Antonio summit, would likely be Dean's first introduction to a 100 percent Mexican American event.

"I do not know if Dean can change the culture of the Texas Democratic Party overnight," Gutierrez said. "We have been White-lead for ever and minority voters are accustomed to voting for White candidates. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true."

Gutierrez said minority voters would participate when they see a good reason to. "Having candidates that look like you and speak to you is a good motivating factor," he said.
A call for comment from the State Democratic Party Office was not returned at press time.

This article by Steve Taylor appeared in the Guardian internet magazine.

AP: Hispanics To Gather in Texas Today for Summit with Democratic Party

The AP reports that today starts the beginning of the 2005 Hispanic Leadership Conference with the presence of DNC Chairman Howard Dean in the Rio Grande Valley.

This DNC Chairman's first visit the Valley.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Howard Dean to be present at the 2005 Hispanic Leadership Summit

The Third Annual 2005 Hispanic Leadership Summit will be held in San Antonio, Texas from August 5th -7th at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk.

There will be a reception for the 2005 DNC Hispanic Leadership Summit & DNC Chairman, Gov. Howard Dean at Plaza Juarez located behind La Villita Assembly Hall (S. Presa Street at La Villita Walkway) on Friday, August 5th, 2005 from 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm.

The reception is hosted by AFSCME, LEAD PAC & Congressman Charlie Gonzalez.

Howard Dean To Visit South Texas at UTPA

Howard Dean, the DNC Chairman, will be visiting the Valley on Friday, August 5th at the University of Texas Pan American. Howard Dean will be speaking to a group of students and individuals of the community about the Democratic Party at the Jeffers Theatre located in the College of Arts and Humanities.

The public is invited to attend this gathering on August 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the University of Texas Pan American.

Winning Back the Hispanic Vote

James Carville has a strategy to win back the Hispanic vote that the Democratic Party seems to be loosing. We have so diligently tried to alert the Texas Democratic Party of this fact for years to no avail. Now that an outsider is making the point maybe someone will listen.

We picked up the story and the report at Taegan Goddards Political Wire site.

Maybe this new attention to a problem we noticed years ago will have value and benefit. National Chair Howard Dean surely understands what so many in this state chose to ignore, in that he will be in the Valley tomorrow at UT-Pan Am and San Antonio the remainder of the weekend to address the problem. Both are being billed as a Hispanic summit.

Everyone is encouraged to participate.

Birth of A Tejano Insider

Today we start a new blog allowing the free flow of political discourse on this newest of mediums. This blog is the official blog of the State Tejano Democrats.

Many thanks to our former state chairman, Rep. Aaron Pena for his repeated suggestion that we involve ourselves in the public debate on issues of concern to our state of Texas. Our thanks for his patience in helping us to understand what a blog is and how it can serve our community through public discourse.

Our newly elected state chairman, Phillip Ruiz will continue the tradition of tackling the tough issues that confront Tejanos. We of course invite the input of all those already established in this medium or any others with ideas that are useful in our purpose.