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Tuesday , December 18 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: Sen. José Rodríguez

Tag Archives: Sen. José Rodríguez

“Streets 2 Safety” Donation Drive Kicks Off

On Monday, the office of Sen. José Rodríguez participated in a news conference announcing the “Streets 2 Safety” donation drive for the El Paso Center for Children.

The drive is a joint collaboration with the Texas Veterans Commission and the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors, to help homeless youth of El Paso as well as the youth who reside in the Center for Children’s emergency shelter.

The drive aims to gather items critical for personal hygiene, health, and education, as well as bring awareness to our community about homeless youth in El Paso.

“Our youth are the future of our city, state, and nation. With every child taken off the streets, there is hope for a brighter future. This drive will give members of our community an opportunity to get involved, spread the word about how serious the situation is, and make a difference,” said Rodríguez.

Many of those served by the center have nowhere else to go, and the facility is the only emergency youth shelter in the region for unaccompanied youth ages 11 to 17. The center also provides a free family counseling program, a therapeutic and specialized foster care program, and a housing program for homeless youth ages 16 to 24.

“We are proud to have this opportunity to collaborate with committed and caring community partners – the El Paso Center for Children, thank you for sharing in the efforts to care for not only our military and veteran families but our community families and children as well,” said Sandy Emanuel, The Clinic Director for the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors.

According to a 2016 study led by Texas Appleseed, there were approximately 16,000 homeless students attending Texas public schools, more than 45,000 young people reported missing in Texas every year, and more than 1,000 youth reported as runaways from foster care placements.

The study also found that, in Texas, one in 30 youth ages 13 to 17 and one in 10 youth ages 18 to 25 experience homelessness. While data is still being collected on the local level, since October 2017, the El Paso Center for Children has served 175 homeless youth through street outreach. In that same time period, the center also has provided shelter to more than 100 youth, some of whom are homeless and others who come to the center as referrals from various government and non-profit agencies.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Senator Rodriguez and his team for this effort. Youth homelessness is a significant problem in El Paso and we want everyone to be aware that there are services to bring these children to safety. This is a wonderful opportunity for the community to support local youth that need our help,” said Beth Singer, CEO for the El Paso Center For Children.

The mission statement of the El Paso Center for Children is “to empower youth and families to brave adversity and conflict through constantly evolving, innovative programs in order to co-create a brighter future.”

Op-Ed: Jose Rodriguez – Fix DREAMER Issue, Then Get On With The Rest

A recent Golden Girls rerun featured a 10-year-old Mario Lopez playing Mario, a star pupil of Dorothy (Bea Arthur), who writes an award-winning essay about being an American, only to be deported by INS (now known as ICE).

The 1987 episode ends with Dorothy vowing to bring him back. Thirty years later, we’re still fighting for Mario and all the other DREAMers raised in the United States, taught in American schools, and in every way American except in their immigration documentation. It has been more than 15 years since U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to give DREAMers permanent residency. It’s 2018, and Congress still hasn’t passed the DREAM Act or anything resembling comprehensive immigration reform.

Instead, we have seen increasingly punitive measures, more “boots on the ground,” curtailing Constitutional rights, ending the longstanding immigration pillar of keeping families united, and walls along the southern border, in many cases requiring private property seizures. In 1996, Congress passed anti-immigrant measures that removed benefits, enhanced penalties, and mandated local data-sharing with federal enforcement agencies. Since 2001, the Border Patrol has doubled in size, and federal “border security” spending is more than all other principal federal law enforcement. Border fences in major urban areas force immigrants onto treacherous desert lands, resulting in thousands of deaths and damage to private property. Not even record-high deportations by President Obama appeased border security-only zealots.

Finally, absent meaningful, positive Congressional action, President Obama implemented DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It provides relief to recipients and their families, and benefits to their communities. They are, after all, friends and neighbors, workers, small business owners, students – in short, contributors to our country.

The Perryman Group recently studied this. Total benefits nationwide of DREAMers, considering multiplier effects, are estimated at $188.6 billion in output and $117.3 billion in income annually, with nearly 2.1 million jobs. The direct economic gains from Texas DREAMers are estimated at $11.5 billion in output and $7.2 billion in income each year; in total, they help generate $25.8 billion in annual output and 324,000 jobs. A CBS News poll found that 87 percent of Americans believe DREAMers should remain in the U.S. if, for example,  they are working or going to school.

Despite their economic contributions and overwhelming public support, the Trump administration – under pressure from anti-immigrant zealots and extremist politicians – stripped DREAMers of their protections under DACA. In fact, Texas’ Attorney General has threatened a lawsuit to remove DREAMERs from the country. Trump flip-flopped and created the crisis for DREAMers, who now face a return to the days where achievements, like winning a writing contest, places them at risk.

Ultimately, we need comprehensive immigration reform — sensible public policy that acknowledges the realities of undocumented immigration, the injustices of punitive laws, and the benefits of immigration. Thoughtful reform makes our country safer and more competitive.

Those larger fixes can come later, with due deliberation. Immediately, before Feb. 8, when Congress must pass a bill to maintain government operations, we must fix the crisis created by Trump’s erratic actions, and allow DREAMers to stay in the only home they know.

***

Sen. Jose Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes both urban and rural constituencies and more than 350 miles of U.S.-Mexico border

Sen. Rodríguez, Rep. Wu Pass Bill to end Arbitrary Special Education ‘Target’

The Texas Legislature has passed and sent to the Governor SB 160, authored in the Senate by Sen. José Rodríguez and sponsored in the House by Rep. Gene Wu. The bill, passed late Tuesday, eliminates the Texas Education Agency’s “target” on  special education enrollment, which effectively acted as a cap.

“This ensures that children receive the services to which they are legally entitled,” Sen. Rodríguez said. “Parents must have a place at the table when schools design appropriate accommodations, and they have a right to have their child evaluated for special education services.”

Rep. Wu, who also had filed HB 713, which was swapped out for SB 160, said: “I am proud to be a part of the team that will help ensure that not one more child will suffer this injustice again. Nearly 200,000 children have been denied their constitutional right to an equal education. We must make sure this is never repeated.”

Rachel Gandy, policy fellow with Disability Rights Texas, said: “The Texas Legislature sent a clear message that students with disabilities in Texas public schools cannot be denied access to full educational opportunity by arbitrary agency action. SB 160 keeps the Texas Education Agency from ever imposing a monitoring standard on school districts that limits the number of students who may be identified as a child in need of special education services.”

Another bill to address issues related to educating children with disabilities, SB 436, passed the Senate Tuesday. SB 436 improves the Texas Special Education Continuous Advisory Committee (SECAC) by promoting more public participation. SECAC is the federally-mandated public body that provides guidance to TEA regarding special education services.

Special education advocates complain that the committee discourages public input at meetings, a view supported by TEA’s 2015 Sunset Review. Under SB 436, the committee must develop a public participation policy, and must post on its website contact information, meeting notices, and minutes. The committee and TEA will submit a report with recommended changes to state law and agency rule.

TEA adopted a monitoring policy that set an arbitrary 8.5 percent target for children receiving special education services in Texas public schools. Numerous parents, advocates, and school districts say the policy effectively served as a cap that drastically lowered the number of students receiving services for a variety of needs, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and epilepsy. When the cap was implemented in 2004, Texas was comparable to the national special education enrollment average at about 12 percent. But by 2015, Texas reached TEA’s 8.5 percent target, the lowest special education enrollment in the nation.

Now, the cap subjects Texas to ongoing scrutiny from the U.S. Dept. of Education. Following a series of listening sessions attended by hundreds of people across Texas, DOE launched an investigation of 12 school districts. Parent advocates threatened to sue the state, and in March the TEA confirmed that it would eliminate the cap immediately.

Senate Bill 160 prohibits TEA from adopting a performance indicator that solely measures a school district’s total number or percentage of enrolled students that receive special education services. The bill makes clear, however, that TEA is not impaired in its requirements under federal law to monitor for disproportionality.

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