Archive for November, 2013

UT student group cancels controversial immigration event

The head of a campus conservative group has agreed to cancel a planned event, known as the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game,” after negative feedback from University of Texas officials, immigrant rights groups, Democrats and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

In a statement, Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Lorenzo Garcia announced he would call off the event, which was planned for Wednesday.

“After the University President and the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement released statements denouncing the event we planned as violating the university’s honor code, I spoke with our chapter’s members, and they are both concerned that the university will retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers.”

At least one counter-demonstration will go ahead as planned. The University Leadership Initiative will march from the UT tower to the district office of Congressman Roger Williams to call for a conversation on immigration reform.

Capital Tonight: Campus controversy spotlights immigration divide

A controversial game planned at the University of Texas is sparking outrage among Texas Democrats and university officials. The Young Conservatives of Texas plans to host a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event on the UT campus Wednesday.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we talked to one of the organizers of the event, along with those who say it goes too far.

ON THE AGENDA

Earlier in the day, Gov. Rick Perry tackled a less controversial debate: Which state has the better economic plan? Perry spoke at an event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank.

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about the event, along with Perry’s so-called rebranding effort ahead of a possible 2016 run.

HEALTH CARE CONCERNS

Plus, we spoke to a local health care administrator about Obamacare’s latest hiccups, and whether they’re affecting more than just private insurance holders. Click the image below to hear from Dr. Mark Hernandez, who heads up Travis County’s Community Care Collaborative.

Perry sets date for House District 50 runoff election

Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday the special election runoff in the Texas House District 50 race will be held Jan. 28.

Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle are vying to serve out the rest of Rep. Mark Strama’s term. Strama, who is from Austin, stepped down from the legislature earlier this year for a job in the private sector.

The winner of the special election will still have to survive a primary and a general election to secure a full term.

Abbott disavows former staffer’s ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ event

Attorney General Greg Abbott is forcefully distancing himself from the actions of a former staff member, who announced plans to hold a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” on the University of Texas campus.

In a statement released today, Abbott called the tactic “repugnant” and compared it to protests over abortion law during the first special session.

“Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort.  Illegal immigration and the failed policies of the Obama Administration are not a joking matter.

“Conservatives should not stoop to the level of liberals, whose shenanigans at the Texas Capitol this summer, including chants of ‘hail Satan’ during Senator Davis’ filibuster to allow abortions after five months, did nothing but sidetrack the Texas Legislature.”

The stunt was announced by Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Lorenzo Garcia. In an event planned for Wednesday, students would “catch” anyone wearing a clothing with the words “illegal immigrant” attached to it in exchange for a $25 gift card.

The group described it as an effort to spur “campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration.”

UT denounces ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ game

The University of Texas is joining critics of a planned ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game planned for Wednesday. The event, organized by the Young Conservatives of Texas, involves people walking on campus wearing signs that say “illegal immigrant.” Students who “catch” them win a $25 gift card.

The University has been critical of other YCT events, including an affirmative action bake sale held last month. In a statement today, UT called the tactics “inflammatory and demeaning.”

“Once again in trying to be provocative, the YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff by sending the message that certain students do not belong on our campus…”

“If the members of YCT carry out their plan for “Catch an Illegal Immigrant,” they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture. And once again, they will have resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”

UT Austin President Bill Powers also responded to the planned event. In a statement posted on the university’s web site, he said:

“The proposed YCT event is completely out of line with the values we espouse at The University of Texas at Austin. Our students, faculty and the entire university work hard both to promote diversity and engage in a respectful exchange of ideas. The Wednesday event does not reflect that approach or commitment.

As Americans, we should always visualize our Statue of Liberty and remember that our country was built on the strength of immigration. Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students.”

The university Staff Council voted unanimously to endorse the statement shortly after it was released.

Democrats blast conservative group’s illegal immigrant game

A planned “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game at the University of Texas is sparking outrage from Texas Democrats.

The Young Conservatives of Texas, whose chairman is a former Greg Abbott staffer, is hosting the event on Wednesday. People wearing “illegal immigrant” signs on their clothes are planning to walk around the UT campus. Students who “catch” them will receive a $25 gift card.

YCT Chairman Lorenzo Garcia says the purpose of the event is to “spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration and how it affects our everyday lives.”

Garcia no longer works with the Abbott campaign. However, that did not stop Democrats from using the event to criticize the GOP frontrunner in the governor’s race.

The Lone Star project released this statement:

“The “game” at the University of Texas Campus goes far beyond a display of bad taste or insensitivity.  It reflects Greg Abbott’s open hostility to Hispanic Texans.  As State Attorney General, Greg Abbott played the lead role in advising the Texas Legislature to adopt redistricting plans that intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and other Texas minority voters.  He has spent millions of dollars in Texas taxpayer money to defend the discriminatory plans and to argue that key US Voting Rights Act provisions designed to protect minority voters against discrimination be overturned. ” 

Here’s what Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa had to say:

“Greg Abbott has already put fear into the hearts of hardworking college students in Texas, through his refusal to take a real position on the Texas DREAM Act. While Abbott has said he doesn’t support the DREAM Act as it is, he refuses to say what he would change and if he supports it at all. And now one of his staffers is organizing theatrical arrests on campaign. Our young and promising DREAM Act scholars already live in enough fear of Abbott, without his staff also forcing them to watch mock arrests.

This is an incredible shame. Greg Abbott owes Texas DREAM Act scholars an apology, and he must come out and immediately denounce Wednesday’s event. This style of hatred and fear is not the type of leadership Texas deserves.”

The YCT has been criticized in the past for similar events, including an “affirmative action bake sale,” where students are charged different prices based on their ethnicity.

 

Wendy Davis weighs in on Van de Putte’s plans

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Wendy Davis is voicing support for fellow Sen. Letica Van de Putte. She released this statement following official word that Van de Putte will make an announcement about her future, next week.

“We’ve already seen the level of excitement that Sen. Van De Putte generates. Sen. Van de Putte has a strong record of putting Texans first. She has delivered for veterans, small businesses, and working families and will make a powerful candidate – should she choose to run.” 

It is expected that Van de Putte will join the race for lieutenant governor. Should she run and win the democratic primary, she will face one of four Republican candidates. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples are in a four way race for the GOP nomination.

Van de Putte releases campaign announcement details

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will make her future political plans known at an event in San Antonio, Sat. Nov. 23. It is widely assumed she will announce a run for lieutenant governor.

Van de Putte has said she is considering a run for higher office, but struggled with the decision in the wake of several deaths in her family. “Our infant grandson in May, and my dad, and just less than a month ago, my mother-in-law. And so a statewide race is very grueling, and very contentious, and unfortunately very toxic,” she said in an October interview. “So I want to serve my state and I love being in the Texas Senate, but I really have to look at, first, my family, and if we would be up to this, and we’re really taking in a lot of data and looking at it if it’s possible.”

In an email to her supporters today, Van de Putte said:

“I understand that the future prosperity of Texas families is dependent upon the path we choose to take today. So after much prayer, reflection and discussion with my family and friends, I’m ready to let you, my grassroots supporters, know what is next for me.”

That announcement is scheduled next Saturday, at San Antonio College. If Van de Putte does decide to run, she will be the second Democrat to join the race. She will face Maria Luisa Alvarado in a primary election.

Capital Tonight: Could a new entry strengthen the Democratic ticket?

President Barack Obama is once again apologizing for the rollout of his signature health care law, and offering up a temporary fix. Meanwhile, a possible new entry in the race for lieutenant governor has Texas Democrats talking about a potential “dream team” in 2014.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we look at whether Sen. Leticia Van de Putte can make a viable run for the state’s second highest office.

DOING THE MATH

Republican Debra Medina settled speculation that she might run for governor Wednesday. Now, a recent poll has her leading the crowded race for state comptroller — with one major caveat. We sat down with Medina to talk about her candidacy, and our Capital Commentators weighed in on her odds for 2014.

SECURITY QUESTIONS

In Washington, members of Congress took a closer look at airport security policies in the wake of this month’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. Our Washington bureau reported on the questions being asked by the Homeland Security Committee

Capital Tonight: Anemic enrollment numbers especially obvious in Texas

Federal officials have released Affordable Care Act enrollment figures, and they fall far below the Obama administration’s projections. The Department of Health and Human Services announced just over 106,000 have signed up nationwide. Of those, fewer than 3,000 came from Texas.
In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how local organizations are coping with the process, glitches and all. Plus, we spoke to Chuck DeVore of the right-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation about whether the website is indicative of bigger problems to come.

JUDICIAL DO-OVER

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the Fisher v. University of Texas case yet again, following a U.S, Supreme Court decision to remand the case. Fisher, a white Texan, sued the University of Texas at Austin when she was denied admission back in 2008. But even after the lengthy legal process, UT Austin President Bill Powers says he’s cautiously optimistic.

IMMIGRATION UPDATE

And in Washington, House Speaker John Boehner is putting the final nail in the coffin of immigration reform — at least until the new year. The Senate already passed a comprehensive bill that includes tighter border security and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents, but Boehner is making it clear that any hope that the Republican-led House might do the same is dead.