WHY IS TEXAS SILENT ABOUT IMMIGRATION REFORM?

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

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Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Republicans have been relatively silent on the renewed push to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Despite the state’s nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants and 1,200-mile long border with Mexico, Perry and the Texas legislature have kept mum on the issue. They’re not resurrecting dozens of contentious immigration bills that roiled the statehouse in 2011. They’re not making the rounds on TV and radio to talk about President Barack Obama’s plan for legalizing immigrants. They’re not even saying the word “immigration.”

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When Perry delivered his State of the State recently — his first since his failed presidential run — glaringly absent in the 37-minute speech was any mention of the issue at all. The silence speaks to the sudden political shift in immigration since last fall’s presidential election, in which Hispanics voted Democratic by a nearly 3-to-1 margin and created a powerful incentive for Republicans to change their approach to this growing ethnic group.
r-MARCO-RUBIO-IMMIGRATION-large570In Congress, Republicans have softened their opposition to accommodating immigrants, and a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators unveiled a bill framework that includes a pathway to citizenship for those already in the U.S. so long as border security is beefed up.
But in Texas, the party has been left speechless in the Capitol. Only two years ago in his State of the State address, Perry called for punishing “sanctuary cities” that bar police officers from asking detainees about their immigration status. There’s no talk of such measures now.
“You want an answer? That tried and that failed,” said Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri. “Responsible leadership is now focusing on things that have a chance to get passed.”
Immigration isn’t an easy subject to ignore in Texas, though. About 16 percent of the undocumented immigrants in the United States live in the state, according to a Department of Homeland Security report in 2012, and immigration leaves an outsize footprint on the state’s infrastructure.

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So red-hot was immigration for Texas Republicans in the last legislative session that state Rep. Debbie Riddle camped outside the clerk’s office to make sure her bills targeting undocumented immigrants were filed first. About 50 bills related to immigration were filed in all. This time, Riddle, who once famously warned of immigrant mothers in the U.S. giving birth to “terror babies” who would grow up to attack the country as unsuspecting citizens, has not submitted any immigration proposals.
“Establishment Republicans are trying to brand a different message,” said Maria Martinez, executive director of the Immigration and Reform Coalition of Texas that backed “sanctuary city” proposals in 2011.

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READ MORE: FOX NEWS LATINO

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THE TEJANO MONUMENT ON TX CAPITOL GROUNDS: A TESTIMONY OF SPANISH-MEXICAN HERITAGE INFLUENCED IN PRESENT DAY TEXAS CULTURE

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

photo by: Marjorie Kamys Cotera

The Tejano Monument was created to emplace a monument on the Texas Capitol grounds to establish an enduring legacy that acknowledges and pays tribute to the contributions by Tejanos as permanent testimony of the Spanish-Mexican heritage that has influenced and is inherent in present-day Texas culture. For more on history http://www.tejanomonument.com/history/.

Tejano Monument unveiling
Sculptor Armando Hinojosa took 11 years to create the Tejano masterpiece
Credit: Erin Cargile/KXAN

The long overdue and much anticipated official unveiling of the Tejano Monument at the State Capitol in Austin.  Gov. Rick Perry attended the dedication of a new monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds honoring Hispanic contributions to Texas History. The Tejano Monument is located on the south lawn.

“This important monument reflects a larger truth about the origins of Texas, about the contributions of so many Hispanic citizens to the creation of the state we love and the lives we share,” Gov. Perry said. “These contributions are ongoing with Latinos providing political, business and spiritual leadership in communities throughout Texas. The future of our state is tied directly to the future of our Hispanic population, and I believe we have a glorious future ahead of us.”
The Tejano Monument was created by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa and consists of 11 life-size sculptures commemorating the 500-year role of Tejanos in Texas and the Spanish-Mexican legacy in the state from 1500 to 1800.

Sculptor Armando Hinojosa took 11 years to create the Tejano masterpiece
Credit: Erin Cargile/KXAN

Work on placing a Tejano Monument at the State Capitol began in 2001, when legislators passed and Gov. Perry signed legislation establishing it. In 2007, the Legislature approved $1.087 million for completion of the monument and an additional $1 million was raised through private donations.

State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (from left), Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, State Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and State Sen. Judith Zaffirini join in prayer during the dedication of the Tejano Monument at the Texas Capitol in Austin, on Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012.
Photo: Kin Man Hui, San Antonio Express-News / ©2012 San Antonio Express-News

Early Spanish and Mexican pioneers and their descendants have helped shape the way of life in Texas, dating back to the 1500s. Today, some of our state’s top Hispanic leaders include Secretary of State Hope Andrade; Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Justice Elsa Alcala; Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman; Chancellor of the UT System Francisco Cigarroa; Austin Diocese Bishop Joe Vasquez; and Presiding Officer at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Jose Cuevas, just to name a few.

Sculptor Armando Hinojosa took 11 years to create the Tejano masterpiece
Credit: Erin Cargile/KXAN

Among the state lawmakers, official dignitaries, business leaders, school children, and thousands of Texans from across the state taking part in today’s official unveiling were also Texas State Representative Roberto R. Alonzo of Dallas and his wife Sylvana.

“It was an honor indeed to take part in today’s history-making event showcasing the official unveiling of the Tejano Monument at the State Capitol grounds,” said Rep. Alonzo.

State Representative Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas. (File photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

“Witnessing come to fruition the over decade-long effort that began with talks close to 12 years ago  to emplace a monument on the grounds of our State Capitol was truly inspirational, historical, and thought-provoking at the same time.  Furthermore, witnessing Tejanos of all ages from all geographic corners of the state, particularly our school children and young college students, convene in Austin for this event was historical in itself.  The monument acknowledges and pays tribute to the contributions by Tejanos on present-day Texas culture and history, and to see so many people from across the state converge at our State Capitol was testament to that,” continued Rep. Alonzo.

With the official ceremonial unveiling of the majestic Tejano Monument, an enduring legacy has been established to serve as a permanent testimony of the Spanish-Mexican heritage that has influenced and shaped the history of Texas.

For more information about the festivities and other related events, you may contact:  Lino Garcia Jr  via  e-mail at : drlinogarcia@SBCGLOBAL.NET or visit the website at www.nosostroslostejanos.com.

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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT GIVES TEXAS JUSTICE AND BLOCKS THE VOTER ID BILL

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

Attorney General Greg Abbott took the dispute over Texas’ maps to federal court in Washington. Photo: Harry Cabluck, AP / HC

The Justice Department’s civil rights division on Monday blocked Texas from enforcing a new law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, contending that the rule would disproportionately suppress turnout among eligible Hispanic voters.

The decision, which follows a similar move in December blocking a law in South Carolina, brought the Obama administration deeper into the politically and racially charged fight over a wave of new voting restrictions, enacted largely by Republicans in the name of combating voter fraud.

In a letter to the Texas state governmentThomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the state had failed to meet its requirement, under the Voting Rights Act, to show that the measure would not disproportionately disenfranchise registered minority voters.

“Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” Mr. Perez wrote, “and that disparity is statistically significant.”

Texas has roughly 12.8 million registered voters, of whom about 2.8 million are Hispanic. The state had supplied two sets of data comparing its voter rolls to a list of people who had valid state-issued photo identification cards — one for September and the other in January — showing that Hispanic voters were 46.5 percent to 120 percent more likely to lack such identification.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY TODD WISEMAN / TEXAS TRIBUNE

Under the Voting Rights Act, certain jurisdictions that have a history of suppressing minority voting — like Texas — must show that any proposed change to voting rules would not have a disproportionate effect on minority voters, even if there is no evidence of discriminatory intent. Such “preclearance” can be granted either by the Justice Department or by a panel of federal judges.

Texas officials had argued that they would take sufficient steps to mitigate any impact of the law, including giving free identification cards to voters who lacked them. But the Justice Department said the proposed efforts were not enough, citing the cost of obtaining birth certificates or other documents necessary to get the cards and the bureaucratic difficulties of that process.

In anticipation that the Obama administration might not clear the law, Texas officials had already asked a panel of judges to allow them to enforce the law. A hearing in that case is scheduled for this week, and the Justice Department filed a copy of its letter before the court.

The offices of Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the Justice Department, saying that “the people of Texas overwhelmingly supported” the law to prevent fraudulently cast votes from canceling out legitimate ones.

“This is an abuse of executive authority and an affront to the citizens of Texas,” Mr. Smith said in a statement. “It’s time for the Obama administration to learn not to mess with Texas.”

Under the state’s existing system, voters are issued certificates when they register that enable them to vote. But last year, Mr. Perry signed a law that would replace that system with one requiring voters to present one of several photographic cards at their polling station. The approved documents include a state-issued driver’s license or identification, a federal military card, a passport, a citizenship certificate or a concealed gun license issued by Texas. Other forms of identification, like student identification cards, would not count.

The measure was part of a wave of new voting restrictions passed in states around the country, mostly by Republicans following their sweeping victories in the 2010 elections.

Supporters argue that the restrictions are necessary to prevent fraud. Critics say there is no evidence of significant amounts of in-person voter impersonation fraud — the kind addressed by photo identification requirements — and contend the restrictions are a veiled effort to suppress turnout by legitimate voters who tend to vote disproportionally for Democrats.

READ MORE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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GOV PERRY LURED APPLE TO TEXAS AND CREATES MORE THAN 3,600 JOBS

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Governor Perry Sweetened the Deal for Apple and for the Texas Economy

Gov. Rick Perry today announced that Apple will expand its presence in Texas with a $304 million investment in a new campus in Austin that will create more than 3,600 new jobs. The new campus will more than double the size of Apple’s workforce in Texas over the next decade, supporting the company’s growing operations in the Americas with expanded customer support, sales and accounting functions for the region. In exchange for Apple’s commitment to create these new jobs in Texas, the state has offered Apple an investment of $21 million over ten years through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF).

“Apple is known for its bold innovation and game-changing designs, and the expansion of their Austin facility adds to the growing list of visionary high-tech companies that have found that Texas’ economic climate is a perfect fit for their future, thanks to our low taxes, reasonable and predictable regulations, fair legal system and skilled workforce” Gov. Perry said. “Investments like this further Texas’ potential to become the nation’s next high-tech hub.”

The project is supported by an investment from the TEF, which offers companies incentives to invest in Texas. When completed, it will be one of the largest job creation projects in TEF history, and one of the largest capital investments by a TEF recipient. The agreement is contingent upon the finalization of contracts and a local incentive agreement with the City of Austin and Travis County.

The Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and re-appropriated funding in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state. TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state’s most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business. To date, the TEF has invested more than $443.4 million and closed the deal on projects generating more than 62,000 new jobs and more than $15.4 billion in capital investment in the state.

Read More: from the office of Governor Rick Perry

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IS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY DOING AWAY WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD IN TEXAS?

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

photo source

Perry Says Women’s Health Program Won’t Die

Gov. Rick Perry notified President Obama on Thursday that Texas will find the money to continue to fund the Women’s Health Program, no matter what the federal government does. But Planned Parenthood won’t be allowed to participate — and the program may no longer be affiliated with Medicaid.

“We’re going to fund this program. … That’s a moot point,” Perry said. He declined to say where he’d get the roughly $35 million the federal government provides every year, but told reporters that the state would not drop the program that has become a political football between Washington and Texas.

“We’ll find the money. The state is committed to this program,” he told reporters. “This program is not going away.”

Perry and Republican leaders in the Legislature don’t want Planned Parenthood to be allowed to participate in the $40-million-per-year program, which is designed to help low-income women get birth-control pills, family-planning help and cancer screenings. Though no clinics that accept funding from the program may perform abortions, the state’s Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule last week that forces Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide more than 40 percent of the program’s services, out of the program anyway.

The Obama administration believes that move is illegal, and has said the federal government will not renew the Medicaid waiver program at the end of March if Planned Parenthood and other clinics affiliated with abortion providers are excluded. Currently, the state puts in $1 for every $9 contributed by the federal government to the Women’s Health Program.

Sarah Wheat, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Capital Region, said that if Perry has suddenly “identified newly available state funding to support women’s health and birth control,” her organization urges him to use it to restore tens of millions of dollars in cuts made to state family planning during the last legislative session, as opposed to shoring up the Women’s Health Program.

“We realize Governor Perry has a history of forgetting,” she said. “But most low-income Texan women remember well that last year, Governor Perry eliminated 2/3 of the budget for women’s preventive health care.”

Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman confirmed that the agency is trying to find the funding to keep the program going without the federal government; health officials received a letter from Perry on Thursday directing them to do so. “Keeping the program alive with state funds will actually cost less than eliminating the program if the federal funding is cut off,” she said. “That’s because the program saves money by reducing the number of births that Medicaid would have to cover.”

But she said that the program probably wouldn’t be able to be affiliated with Medicaid — the joint state-federal health provider for children, the disabled and the very poor — because there would be no federal dollars coming in.

Perry said Texas has a “multibillion-dollar budget, so we have the ability to be flexible.” He said Texas taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to send their dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics, which can refer for abortions even if they can’t perform them.

“Texans don’t want Planned Parenthood, a known abortion provider, to be involved in this,” he said. “We’ve made that decision, and that should be the state’s right to decide.”

Read More: Texas Tribune

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