JOSE HERNANDEZ ALLOWED TO RUN AS ASTRONAUT ON BALLOT

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

A judge ruled that the former space shuttle astronaut can list his old occupation on the ballot. (Facebook.com/joseforcongress)

California congressional candidate José Hernández (D) will be able to call himself an “astronaut” when his name appears on the ballot, a judge ruled Thursday.

The ability of the former astronaut, who flew on a space shuttle mission, to list that profession on the ballot was challenged by a law firm with ties to Republicans in a state court this week. Judge Lloyd Connelly dismissed the firm’s argument that “astronaut” not appear on the ballot because it had not been Hernández’s primary profession for over a year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I was never in doubt that I would be able to use astronaut on my ballot,” Hernández said in a statement. “I am glad that common sense prevailed and we were able to defeat this lawsuit and get back to talking about real issues.”

Hernández, who is challenging freshman Rep. Jeff Denham (R), publicly called attention to the suit this week. In an interview with Univision News, the ex-astronaut said it made him “flabbergasted,” blaming it on his opponents who felt threatened by his personal background.

“I’ve heard in reports that they probably did some type of polling and they found that referring to me as what my career was last, which was an astronaut — that they probably didn’t do too well. So they are throwing everything including the kitchen sink at us,” said Hernández.

Denham had no official role in the suit, but the law firm that brought the suit to court, Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, has been paid by the congressman’s campaigns in the past for legal services.

The firm criticized the ruling in a statement to the Times.

“Allowing a candidate out of nowhere to use the profession of ‘astronaut’ when he hasn’t served in that profession recently, is akin to allowing someone to use a title of ‘sailor’ when they no longer own or operate a ship,” spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said in a statement.

READ MORE: UNIVISION NEWS

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WILL TEXAS PLAY A ROLE FOR GOP CANDIDATES?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Speaking to the RJC, the candidates all promised to strengthen the alliance with Israel. | AP Photos

With the Texas primary still more than two months away, and no assurances that the GOP presidential nominating process will have been decided by then, folks in the Lone Star State are anxiously preparing for company.

Some state officials are bemoaning the fact that Texas elections have been delayed until May 29 because of redistricting court battles, forcing the state to miss March’s much-heralded “Super Tuesday,” when 10 other states participated in primaries and caucuses.

The concern was that the nation’s second-largest state would have no real say in choosing the next Republican nominee for president.

But after Rick Santorum chalked up wins in Alabama and Mississippi last week, although still greatly trailing front-runner Mitt Romney in the delegate count, there is a feeling among many party faithful and political pundits that the momentum is with him. “True conservatives” are giddy about the prospect of Santorum winning enough races between now and June to cause a brokered convention in August.

The trail to the convention would become more interesting in Texas, where Republicans are armed with the second-most delegates in the country (155). Even Californians, whose primary is in June, are holding out hope that their 172 delegates will be the ones to really decide the nominee to face President Barack Obama in the general election.

If there truly is a contested campaign in this state, it could have ramifications for others on the ballot as the GOP old guard battles Tea Party upstarts. And depending how much money the candidates and their supporting super political action committees spend on advertising, it could get dirty real quick.

Former first lady Barbara Bush, a Romney supporter, is on record voicing her disgust with this year’s campaign.

“I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life,” Bush said during an appearance this month with daughter-in-law Laura at Southern Methodist University.

Intra-party battle lines have been drawn for a while as the elder Bushes and other GOP heavyweights backed Romney, and Gov. Rick Perry, after a failed presidential bid, threw his staunch support behind Newt Gingrich.

That leaves Santorum — with his growing Tea Party, social conservative and evangelical support — and Rep. Ron Paul, who has a following of Libertarians and other big-government haters.

A new poll out last week by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, a GOP survey group, showed Santorum ahead of Romney in Texas by 8 percentage points, 35 percent to 27 percent, followed by Gingrich with 20 percent and Paul with 8 percent.

Should Santorum hang on to that lead, who knows what impact his voters will have on down-ballot races — statewide, congressional and legislative and even county elections.

A lot will depend on who can get their message and their voters out. This is not Kansas or Mississippi.

Texas has 20 media markets, including the fifth- and 10th-largest in the country (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, respectively). That means candidates will have to spend a lot of money on advertising and a lot of face-time in the state.

And, based on what we’ve seen in other primary and caucus states, it’s sure to get downright nasty.

The candidates, however, will try to balance their mean streaks with their softer personas demonstrated by imitating local accents, holding babies and eating down-home food like grits, biscuits and barbecue. Of course, in Texas they’ll have to add tamales to that list — and I trust none will eat the Mexican staple with corn husk still on it.

After the Alabama and Mississippi contests, The Associated Press tabulated the delegate count at 495 for Romney, 252 for Santorum, 131 for Gingrich and 48 for Paul. It takes 1,144 to win.

Because Gingrich and Santorum have vowed to take their campaigns all the way to the convention in Florida regardless of delegate count, Texans can expect to see quite a bit of the candidates here in the next few weeks.

So, get out the welcome mats, y’all. While you’re at it, you might want to stock up on some bicarbonate of soda.

Read more here: Star-Telegram

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PRESIDENT OBAMA RESPONDS: WHY IMMIGRATION REFORM WAS NOT PASSED IN FIRST TERM

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

On GOP‘s Super Tuesday, Obama Talks Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that his administration was unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, a promise he made during his 2008 campaign, but said that was because immigration had become a partisan issue.

“When I came into office I said ‘I’m going to push to get this done.’ We didn’t get it done,” Obama said during a press conference at the White House. “The reason we haven’t got it done is because what used to be a bipartisan issue, agreement that we should fix this, ended up becoming a partisan issue.”

Obama was responding to a question about recent polls showing the president holding a favorable lead among Latinos against the GOP candidates in the run-up to November’s elections, despite growing disappointment among the community about the failure of any immigration reform.

A Fox News Latino/Latin Insights poll released Monday of likely Latino voters indicated that 73 percent of them approved of Obama’s performance in office, with over half those questioned looking favorably upon his handling of the healthcare debate and the economy, at 66 percent and 58 percent respectively.

More than half of the poll’s respondents, however, said they felt U.S. immigration policy was too strict and an overwhelming majority – 85 percent – would like to see undocumented immigrants have a chance to legalize their status. A huge percentage, 82 percent, believe undocumented immigrants do work that Americans will not do. They feel the undocumented workers help expand the economy.

“My hope is that after this election the Latino community will have sent a strong message that they want a bipartisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform that involves making sure that we got tough border security, and this administration has done more for border security than just about anybody,” Obama said, adding that immigration reform also needed to include making sure companies don’t take advantage of undocumented workers and that there was a clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

An overwhelming majority of those polled –nine out of ten– support the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants brought as children to gain legal U.S. residency if they attend college or join the military.

Obama praised former President George W. Bush and his advisors for saying that immigration reform should not be something that just the Democrats support. “That was good advice then, it’s good advice now,” Obama said.

The president continued on to say that Congress needs to unify under this matter if any progress is going to be made toward passing immigration reform.

“Ultimately I can’t vote for Republicans. They’re going to have to come to the conclusion that this is good for the country and that this is something that they themselves think is important,” Obama said. “Depending on how Congress turns out, we’ll see how many Republican votes we’ll need to get it done.”

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/03/06/obama-calls-for-bipartisan-support-in-immigration-reform/#ixzz1oO56iYXI

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HOW DID TEXAS COME OUT IN REDISTRICTING: REPUBLICANS VS. DEMOCRATS

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

In Battle for Political Conquest, Ethnicity Sets the Boundaries for Both Parties

photo of Texas State Capitol Building in Austin at night

The political maps are out, finally, and this is as good as it gets for Texas Republicans unless they can figure out how to win votes from black and Hispanic voters.

For the Democrats, this is probably the bottom. They have to find more voters or be forced to continue relying on the ethnicity of their voters — and the protections that come with that ethnicity — to protect the seats they still have.

The Republicans have snapped up everything not nailed down by the federal Voting Rights Act.

Redistricting nods to fairness but is actually about power. It allows a Republican Legislature, for instance, to put a dog collar and a short leash on Democratic voters in Austin.

Travis County is one of just a few Texas counties that voted for Barack Obama for president. In the new Congressional maps, five districts reach into the county (none is based there), and only one is likely to produce a Democratic representative.

As it stands, the county would be represented by two people from Austin, one from San Antonio, one from Georgetown (a suburb) and one from Bryan. One of the Austin residents, Lloyd Doggett, an incumbent Democrat, will face tough opposition from San Antonio; the other, Michael McCaul, an incumbent Republican, has a district that runs east to Houston.

It’s safe to say lawmakers weren’t trying to empower the locals. It makes you wonder why the city of Austin rewards them with free airport parking.

Lawmakers don’t have to be fair. If they did, the court would have repaired the damage. It’s just that the law doesn’t protect geography as carefully as it protects minorities.

In Travis County, the minority populations are too scattered to draw a Congressional district protected by the Voting Rights Act. The seat most likely to elect a Democrat stretches into central San Antonio, and it is uncertain whether Mr. Doggett can prevail over someone from San Antonio. His district wasn’t protected.

The remaining Democratic seats in the state result from legal protections for minority groups that happen to vote for Democrats. The Republicans don’t have the legal ability to take more ground; the Democrats don’t have the political juice to win anything not legally protected.

Maps aren’t everything. Using the current maps, the Republicans got 101 seats in the Texas House; using the same maps two years earlier, they got only 76.

But maps mean a lot. The partisan compositions of the Texas Senate and of the state’s Congressional delegation have changed only marginally between redistricting episodes over the last 20 years. If you want change in those places, the most effective strategy is to change the maps.

The redistricting fights have been about the clout of minority voters. Virtually every legal skirmish was over a district that either is, or arguably should be, one in which minority voters have the power to decide the winners.

With few exceptions, the decision to create or protect a minority district was also a decision about whether it would elect a Republican or a Democrat. Talk about walking on eggshells — every conversation or argument about the maps teeters between politics and race.

This year’s elections will clear up the remaining questions. Mr. Doggett is the last Anglo Democrat in the Congressional delegation who wasn’t elected in a minority opportunity district. If he wins re-election, it will be in a Latino district. (Representative Gene Green, Democrat of Houston, also an Anglo, has represented a Latino district for years.)

The only genuine swing district on the Congressional map is District 23, where Representative Francisco Canseco, Republican of San Antonio, will face the winner of a Democratic primary that could include former United States Representative Ciro Rodriguez, whom Mr. Canseco beat in 2010. That’s a test of whether Republicans can hold a minority district.

United States Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of Corpus Christi, got a district with a Republican voting history but where a majority of the voters are either black or Latino. That’s another political test tube.

Republicans can’t increase their already stout majorities without winning minority votes or getting rid of the law that protects minority voters. And Democrats have to figure out a way to win in districts drawn by the opposition.

Read more: Ross Ramsey, the executive editor at The Texas Tribune, writes a column for The Tribune article from the NYT

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WHAT IS PRESIDENT OBAMA DOING TO FIX THE IMMIGRATION SYSTEM?

THE HISPANIC BLOG

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FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

“We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea—the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here…The future is ours to win. But to get there, we cannot stand still.”

President Obama is calling for a national conversation on immigration reform that builds a bipartisan consensus to fix our broken immigration system so it works for America’s 21st century economy, but he can’t do it alone. Help bring the debate to your community by hosting a roundtable.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION IN YOUR COMMUNITY AND HOST A ROUNDTABLE.

President Obama is calling for a national conversation on immigration reform that builds a bipartisan consensus to fix our broken immigration system so it works for America’s 21st century economy and security needs, but he can’t do it alone. That is why we are asking you and other Americans, including business leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement leaders and all Americans that understand that we cannot continue to live with the broken system the way it is – to continue the conversation in your community by hosting a roundtable.

Step 1:
Download the toolkit. Click on link below.

Step 2:
Tell us about your event using the form to the right.

Step 3:
Tell us how your event went and submit the completed toolkit on the follow up form.

http://m.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration/roundtables

President Obama recognizes that our current immigration system is broken and he is deeply committed to building a new 21st century immigration system that meets our nation’s important economic and security needs. In his State of the Union Address, the President laid out his vision for winning the future. To secure prosperity for all Americans, we must out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world, and fixing our immigration system plays an important part in that plan. As we work to rebuild our economy, our ability to thrive depends, in part on restoring responsibility and accountability to the immigration system.

President’s Vision for Reform
The President plans to create a 21st century immigration system by:

-Continuing to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to securing our borders;

-Demanding accountability for businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers;

-Strengthening our economic competiveness by creating a legal immigration system that reflects our values and diverse needs; and
Requiring responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally.

-Building on Progress
During the last two years, the Obama Administration has taken important steps to improve our immigration system within the boundaries of existing laws. For example, the Administration has:

—-Dedicated unprecedented resources to secure the border;

—-Made interior and worksite enforcement smarter and more effective; and

—-Worked to improve our legal immigration system.

BLUEPRINT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

Click to access immigration_blueprint.pdf

ACCORDING TO THE PRESIDENT:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, expressing confidence he will win re-election in November, told a Hispanic audience he would use a second term to seek comprehensive immigration reform.

“My presidency is not over,” Obama said in an interview with Univision Radio when asked about his failure so far to push through an immigration bill. “I’ve got another five years coming up. We’re going to get this done.”

Obama is seeking to shore up support among Hispanic voters, whose strong backing helped him win the White House in 2008. But some in the Latino community are disappointed over the lack of progress toward overhauling the immigration system.

Obama – in an interview broadcast the day before his Thursday trip to Florida, an election battleground state with a large Hispanic population – sought to reassure Latinos he was committed to trying to pass broad immigration reform.

He rejected suggestions that he had broken a campaign promise and put the blame on Republicans in Congress who he said were “unwilling to talk at all about any sensible solutions to this issue.”

“So far, we haven’t seen any of the Republican candidates even support immigration reform,” Obama said, taking aim at his potential opponents in the November 6 election.

The White House hopes that hard-line positions taken by Republican presidential contenders on illegal immigration and border control will help Obama with Hispanic voters in vital swing states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

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