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Home | Tag Archives: senator rodriguez

Tag Archives: senator rodriguez

Op-Ed: State Senator Rodriguez talks Trump Administration, Policies and Impact

As we have seen first-hand, the Trump administration has attacked immigrants on every front.

This is most evident with the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, where the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy has turned away more than 18,000 asylum seekers. They have been forced to endure lengthy delays in adjudication, difficulty communicating with their lawyers, and dangerous conditions in Mexico.

This is just one example of extreme anti-immigrant politics from an administration that began with a campaign announcement in 2015 targeting immigrants as “rapists” bringing “crime” and “drugs.” The facts demonstrate immigrants commit crimes at lesser rates than citizens, but most people aren’t likely to know that, or to understand border communities like ours. The administration’s demagoguery thereby targets all immigrants by fanning the fears of everyday Americans.

These anti-immigrant policies directly and negatively impact U.S. citizens in many ways. For example, the Trump administration attempted to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census. This was an attempt to violate Fifth Amendment rights by creating racial animus towards Latinos, non-U.S. citizens and foreign-born persons and risked violating the Voting Rights Act, as a means to impact apportionment of Congressional districts and suppress representation in communities of color.

Not only did the question attempt to reduce participation in minority or low-income communities, which have been historically hard to count, the Trump administration underfunded the typical Census preparations. This includes cancelling field tests, delaying development of the communications plan, and delaying the opening of regional offices.

In Texas, Gov. Abbott made this situation worse by not creating a statewide Complete Count Committee and providing state funding, as many other states have.

This is significant because the Census data determines how over $700 billion is distributed every year to states and local governments for critical programs, like schools, health care, roads, housing, and job training. The stakes couldn’t be higher for Texas, which received $43.4 billion, the third highest allocation based on Census-guided data. Without an accurate count, valuable services and dollars that support Texas communities like El Paso may be lost.

It is also significant because it shows there is no area of government function the administration will not seek to subvert in its zeal to suppress immigrants, primarily those of color.

Fortunately, despite the administration’s anti-American strong-arm tactics, El Paso is a resilient community. By working with partners at the U.S. Census Bureau, El Paso has created a strong “Complete Count Committee” to ensure there is full participation, and that everyone is counted in the 2020 Census, as required by our Constitution. Participants of the committee include local elected officials, representatives of our different municipalities, school districts, non-profits, community leaders, and student activists.

Together, the committee leverages their knowledge and leadership positions to create and implement awareness campaigns. The committee is already taking initiative by hosting events and conducting community outreach about the Census. One of their first events, Creatives for the Count, mixes art, culture, and family, highlighting the vibrant talent of the community to make social change. It’s a thoughtful response to engage our hard-to-count populations because we all count. Regardless of whether your community has developed any Census-related programs or not, it’s never too late to engage your friends, neighbors, and community leaders in this conversation.

The result of the anti-immigrant policies, and underfunding of the Census preparation, means it will take the entire community to successfully carry out the Census. I invite everyone to attend the Creatives for the Count event to support and learn more on how you can get involved, and make sure you and your loved ones are counted.

Let’s let the federal government know, aquí estamos, we are here, y no nos vamos, and we are not leaving.


Author – José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Agriculture (Vice Chair), Transportation, Natural Resources and Economic Development, and Water and Rural Affairs.


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State Senator Rodríguez’s statement on the Senate Budget

Austin – State Sen. José Rodríguez released the following statement on S.B. 1, the Senate’s version of the state budget, which passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday:

Passing a budget is our basic responsibility, one that none of us take lightly. It is for this reason that I vote now in favor of it, although I do have some serious concerns. This is a start, and that’s what I’m voting for, so that we may move the process forward and make it better. 

Three cycles after the draconian cuts of the 82nd Legislature, we have made incremental progress. However, we have the ability to do much more. 

This session, as last session and the session before, we have the means to make up lost ground. 

 Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of this body prioritizes tax cuts over education and other essential government functions.

That is why I voted against SB 17, and against SB 2, just to give two examples of bills that will 1) limit the funds available for future school funding, and 2) limit local government’s ability to set priorities and respond to emergencies – especially so for rural counties, as we heard repeatedly. I plan to vote against SB 9, which would set a new, even more stringent limit on spending. Given how tight we’ve been, I’m not sure what policy purpose is served by tying the hands of future legislatures.

The state’s “Rainy Day Fund” continues to grow.  We now have more than $10 billion and are estimated to have almost $12 billion by the end of the 2018-19 biennium.  We should be using the Rainy Day Fund to ensure that we’re adequately funding our schools and health and human services.  

The basic allotment provides for per-student funding of $5,140 in the 2018-19 biennium. This is the same amount as the last biennium, so we’re falling behind. 

We also are cutting our higher education institutions – $332 million from universities, state colleges, and technical schools.  

Further, the federal budget proposal from the White House has major cuts in financial aid and research. So Texas higher education may take a double hit. 

In both cases, quality educational development is economic development, a proven way for nations – and states – to prosper. 

We are not spending enough on health care, and it’s unclear how we will pay for the Medicaid shortfall left by last session’s underfunding of almost $2.6 billion. 

For DPS “border security,” the agency is allocated almost $500 million under the Secure Texas heading. Adding up other funds, we’re looking at another $800 million for the biennium. 

Members should remember, and the public should be aware, that what happened during the “border security” vote in 2015 was that we took DPS out of the Highway Fund, and placed it in General Revenue. 

The majority voted to do that despite a lack of data then, and now. There are as many drugs, gangs and guns in Texas communities as there were before this started, because it never was a border issue.  If that had been the choice, without the rhetoric of “border security,” I don’t think members would have been as willing to set DPS against education, which is what we now face. 

I will continue advocating for education funding, for health care, for higher education, and for other special programs that make a difference in Texans’ lives, from the relatively small amount of $5 million for Relocation Services Contractors who play such an important role for people with disabilities to funding for the Adult Career Education grant program that is so important to my community to fully funding the critical Texas-New Mexico water lawsuit, as we did last session. 

With all that, this budget has some good things. CPS is funded at $430 million, which includes $300 mil for $1,000 raises for 828 additional caseworkers. That is not enough, according to experts and the agency itself, but it’s a huge step forward. It’s not a huge line item, but $25 million for school broadband access, which will help draw down hundreds of millions in federal funds, is a great investment. This budget provides $244 million for mental health care, which includes $64 to eliminate wait lists for community mental health services. 

All of these items are critical needs, but not all critical needs are addressed by SB 1.

I am voting for this budget with the understanding that it is a start. We have the resources to build upon this start.

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