Category Archives: Column

So many hopes dashed by Supreme Court’s immigration ruling

One sentence. Nine words.

“The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”

That was all that a 4-4 split U.S. Supreme Court issued to the waiting world on Thursday morning in a crushing immigration decision against millions who are here in this country illegally and who want to stay here legally and work — including hundreds of thousands in the Rio Grande Valley like my “sister.”

That, perhaps, is the greatest tragedy of Thursday’s decision: the interpretation of the law results in those whom we love and work with every day to become dehumanized.

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Are we still home of the brave?

The rhetoric throughout this electoral season needs little introduction. We’ve all heard the calls from both sides to stop immigrants, turn back refugees, build walls, block trade and rip up our international agreements. Instead of looking outward, it’s a sharp move away from the global arena. It seems that for the home of the brave, we’re in full retreat these days.

I understand the anger driving this withdrawal. Far too many Americans are looking at their lives and realizing that it’s not what they expected. Local economies have shifted and wages stagnated, leaving many workers in tough straits. Education systems and other public services are uneven in their quality. And Americans are tired of hearing the same promises from their representatives with few significant or long-term changes.

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Remembering all moms, including detained immigrants and their children, this Mother’s Day

There is an image that I can’t shake from my mind of several young children who I saw last year filling the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, about 200 miles north of McAllen, where hundreds of women and children who arrived in the United States illegally are detained for weeks, even months at a time.

The children were eating lunches of boiled broccoli, chicken, cut fruit and they were drinking milk. They were grouped according to their “classrooms,” I was told by officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the privately run facility.

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Benefits of undocumented workforce in Texas

Immigration policy has long been a source of heated rhetoric and political debate, particularly as it relates to the undocumented population. And while there are numerous considerations surrounding this issue, it is clear that immigrants — both legal and undocumented — influence business activity in fundamental ways. The value of a readily available workforce cannot be denied, but neither can costs of immigrants such as health care, education, and social services.

The issues surrounding immigration are complicated and given the emotional nature of the immigration debate, the statistics emphasized and the conclusions drawn can vary widely. Radical proposals, such as immediate deportation of all undocumented individuals, are often suggested, as well as sensible reforms to make the labor force and the process more effective and efficient.

Beneath all of the sound and fury, however, is one incontrovertible fact: Texas needs the workers!

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Sister Norma is sparking a ‘revolution of tenderness’ in all of us

It’s not often that a room full of lawmakers, city and county leaders and citizens become absolutely still and engaged by a speaker. Unless, that is, they are listening to Sister Norma Pimentel.

The soft-spoken yet highly opinionated nun who heads Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, has become the face of the immigration crisis in South Texas via her makeshift respite center at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She has captivated audiences worldwide from Pope Francis, to the White House, to the United Nations, as well as numerous congressional delegations and ambassadors from multiple countries since the immigration surge began in 2014.

And she did so once again on Thursday morning to a hometown crowd at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce during our latest Newsmaker Breakfast Series, which was moderated by Monitor Editor Carlos Sanchez and sponsored by IBC Bank.

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The hypocricy of immigration politics

Each presidential election cycle elicits renewed immigration rhetoric. Candidates and activists of all stripes engage in revamped immigration hyperbole and vitriol. The first indicator of hypocrisy is that despite the soaring rhetoric, there is an absence of comprehensive legislation to curb illegal immigration, bolster border security and address the huge backlog of pending legal immigration applications.

Hypocrisy is nowhere more evident than among politicians who attempt to pander to ethnic voters by extolling the dignity and contributions of illegal immigrants, while seemingly disregarding that ethnic voters are American citizens, not illegal immigrants. Equally bigoted and hypocritical is the assumption that ethnic American voters, specifically Latinos and African-Americans, support illegal immigration.

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Detention of women and children immigrants must end

The recent federal judicial ruling ordering the release of immigrant families at U.S. immigration detention centers is welcome news for the unfortunate hundreds of migrant women and their children held in prison-like settings for weeks, months and in some cases years, without just cause only serving to deprive them of their health, happiness and well-being.

Several congressional Democratic lawmakers protested conditions at the Karnes County Detention Center in Karnes City, Dilley facility and one in Leesport, Pennsylvania, which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. As such, we are pleased by the July 24 ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California, which confirms our belief that the U.S. immigration system failed to live up to our proud tradition of welcoming immigrants and that DHS should look toward more humane alternatives to detention.

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