Hispanic Caucus News

Why I Vote - Carlos Colao

Votar representa la consagración de nuestra libertad sobre cuyo derecho se constituye y plasma la máxima manifestación democrática de nuestra Sociedad, y sobre la que erige y levanta nuestra Constitución americana como norma suprema en la que poder someter la corrupción, la avaricia y la maldad encarnada en los pecados más amargos del poder.

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Why I Vote - Felipe Manteiga

As a 73-year-old immigrant, I have been captivated by America.  A great people extended a sorely-needed helping hand to me and many other Cuban immigrants. Crucial subsidies once provided me with ample opportunities to experience the American Dream and empowered me to a point where I could make a modest contribution in facing our nemesis: the Soviet Union and global communism. In doing so, and being nurtured by democratic ideals from my childhood, I was able to support democracy and freedom and oppose dictatorships from all politically extremist views. Equally important, I was able to actively collaborate in empowering those powerful dictators and corrupt institutions had disenfranchised.

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Why I Vote - Nick Buffie

Hola, me llamo Nick Buffie. Tengo 25 años y por ahora estoy viviendo en Bogotá, Colombia.

Más que nada, yo voto porque quiero que todos los estadounidenses tengan acceso al cuidado médico. Cuando tenía 16 años, el padre de uno de mis amigos murió de un tumor cerebral curable. Y la historia de este padre es así: cuando mi amigo era chico, su padre tocaba música con su banda en un parque en Bloomington, Indiana. (Soy de esa ciudad.) Durante la función, el padre – quien tocaba la batería – sufrió una convulsión. Fue al médico y el médico le dijo que tenía un tumor cerebral benigno. Pero, aunque el tumor no era canceroso, era muy grande, y su tamaño mismo era un problema. Lo que es más, el tumor estaba creciendo – y el médico le dijo al padre que si éste se hacía más grande, él podría morir.

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Why I Vote - Nelleke A. Bruyn

I am Nelleke Bruyn, a naturalized United States citizen, and I now live in Costa Rica.  My parents immigrated to the USA from Holland when I was 13 years old and I became a USA citizen when I was 24 years old.  It is the duty of all USA citizens to vote. The USA is one of the most powerful countries in the world.  When the USA sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.  It is the duty of all USA citizens to vote.  The fate of the world depends on it.   Thank you

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Why I Vote - Greg Dolezal

As an American who has lived abroad for over ten years, I understand the impact that our politics has on the rest of the world. Everyone is watching us and although they are familiar with our issues and affected by them they cannot participate. Being able to vote is a privilege that I have as a citizen that I don't take lightly.

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Why I Vote - Ana Hernandez-Blackstad

 

Saludos!

I am Ana Hernandez Blackstad, Chair of the Democrats Abroad Global Hispanic Caucus.  I live in Prague, Czech Republic and I vote in Washington State.

I’m proud to introduce a new project of the Hispanic Caucus, called “Why I Vote.”  In the coming months, you’ll have the opportunity on this website to meet members of the Hispanic Caucus who live outside of the US, sharing with you their stories of why voting is important to them.  We hope it will inspire you to vote too.

 

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Why I Vote - Michael Ramos

My name is Michael Ramos and I am a reliable, proud American voter. I vote for several reasons. 

Although I live outside of the United States, I am not a citizen of any other country and therefore do not have a say in any other country's government. But because I firmly believe in American civic participation, I make sure I cast my vote in every election I'm eligible to vote in, regardless of where I am physically. With my citizenship and my vote, I have political representation in the U.S., and I regularly exercise the right to voice my opinion in government through means of elections.
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A Year In Review & Forecasting 2018

 

Democratic Brothers and Sisters,

Another year gone, another full agenda on our activist radar. So what’s been happening and what can you expect the Hispanic Caucus to be involved in? Please keep reading for answers…

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

There are four relevant bills currently pending in Congress that affect DACA enrollees, one of which, the Dream Act, is the ideal legislation Democrats have been pushing Republican leaders to hold a vote. Protecting Dreamers is simply the right thing to do, and their stories are indisputably and uniquely pro-American. To summarize the issue, Obama created DACA through executive order, Trump utilized his presidential authority to rescind the program, and now the fate of nearly 800,000 Dreamers lies in the hands of congressional Republicans. We must not stop fighting for these individuals. Why is passing the Dream Act critical? Gracias to our DNC rep, Orlando, for passing along this great video explaining it.

Keep in mind that comprehensive immigration reform is still urgently needed, but don’t expect Republicans to work in a bipartisan manner anytime soon as their go-to policies include “build the wall,” “no funding for sanctuary cities,” “increased border patrol,” “ban refugees from Muslim countries,” etc.

Tax Reform

Unfortunately for many Americans and indeed for all Americans living abroad, the GOP Tax Scam is now law (P.L. 115-97). Don’t be misled – the new law is a massive giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, Republican campaign donors, and corporations already sitting on massive record profits. Instead of actually helping America’s working-class, congressional Republicans voted to put America over a trillion dollars in yet more debt, open up drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, kill the health care mandate in the Affordable Care Act which essentially means healthier people will not voluntarily pay for coverage and therefore destabilize the insurance market and increase everyone else’s health premiums, and the list goes on and on. The absurdity alone of this new tax law is enough to justify booting out every single Republican in the next election.

Other Important Issues

Sheriff Joe Arpaio – President Trump pardoned this highly-controversial Arizonan. From blatant racial profiling to false accusations about President Obama’s birth certificate to total abuse of power in office, Arpaio is a symbol to many Americans of who should be jailed, not entrusted with elected office and enforcing the law while disrespecting civil rights.

Charlottesville, VA – The president of the United States failed miserably to adequately denounce the hateful rhetoric and detestable violence of Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists.

Cabinet – Pitifully, there is only one high-ranking person of Hispanic descent in the Trump White House: U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.

Virginia’s House of Delegates – Latinas were elected for the first time, increasing much-needed diversity in the commonwealth’s legislature representation.

Puerto Rico – The devastation from the summer’s hurricane season led to mass dysfunction from the White House leadership and—quite despicably—rolls of paper towels being thrown by our Commander-in-Chief to fellow U.S. citizens desperately pleading for help. Keep an eye on Carmen Yulín Cruz, currently mayor of San Juan, as a rising Democratic star.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus – The CHC consists of all Democratic members of Congress. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) attempted to join the caucus but was rejected after it was determined he was doing it simply to appear more “bipartisan” in his own tough congressional race. The Democratic Party does not have an official position on this particular issue, but several persons I’ve spoken with have mixed feelings on this occurrence. Perhaps this topic merits further discussion if anyone is so inclined..?


Congressional Legislative Scorecard for 2017

Please take a few moments to see how your members of Congress voted on key bills affecting the Hispanic community.

(Methodology: How is this scorecard determined? Only items voted on by the full House or Senate chamber are included. Not included are other congressional actions or inactions such as co-sponsoring particular bills, speaking out on an issue, committee votes, or condemning Republicans.)

House of Representatives

6/29/17 – H.R. 3003, No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. This bill is an extreme enforcement proposal which blurs the lines between federal immigration enforcement and local police.
Democratic position: VOTE NO.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

6/29/17 – H.R. 3004, Kate’s Law. This bill is another unnecessary measure which expands already-severe penalties for immigrants who re-enter the U.S., and thus waste resources and simply lead to an increase in the prison population without addressing other aspects of overdue immigration reform.
Democratic position: VOTE NO.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

9/14/17 – H.R. 3697, Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. This bill creates new rules for preventing entry to or deporting immigrants based on the mere suspicion of gang affiliation.
Democratic position: VOTE NO.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

12/20/17 – H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill is possibly the worst to come out of Congress in a decade. It would have been more accurate to call it the “Tax Cuts Only for the Wealthy, No Tax Reform for Americans Abroad, and Massive Giveaway to Corporations Act.”
Democratic position: VOTE NO.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

Senate

2/7/17 – Confirming Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education

Democratic position: VOTE NO. She was and still is completely unqualified, is simply a long-time Republican donor, does not believe in LGBT fairness and equality in schools, and remains unclear as to whether she even believes in wanting the U.S. public education system to succeed.
Click here to see how your senators voted.

2/17/17 – Confirming Scott Pruitt as U.S. Administrator to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Democratic position: VOTE NO.
Click here to see how your senators voted.

4/7/17 – Confirming Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court
Democratic position: VOTE NO. Gorsuch is an arch-conservative who has consistently sided with corporations over workers, and has an overall record of unpopular judicial decisions.
Click here to see how your senators voted.

12/20/17 – H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Democratic position: VOTE NO.
Click here to see how your senators voted.


There were many other issues of importance which were also voted on in the first half of the 115th Congress – raising the debt ceiling, the continuing resolution, appropriations, the numerous attempts to gut ObamaCare and more, but for the sake of keeping the above list short, I just focused on those bills.

Of course, there were some happier moments from 2017 which brought pride to the Hispanic community and raised awareness of Latinos. Disney’s “Coco” was (and still is) a box office smash, “Despacito” rocked the air waves, the Latino cast of Broadway’s “Hamilton” toured the U.S., and other notable moments happened in politics, the arts, and education.

Things to do in 2018

The new year brings a few special congressional elections, must-pass spending bills to keep the federal government operating, reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, “entitlement reform” (this is GOP code for slashing Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Security—expect several take-action items from us on this), possibly another #GOPTaxScam v. 2.0 in April, and likely a huge transportation-infrastructure bill in Congress. Although transportation is not necessarily an expat issue, it is massively relevant to the Hispanic community which deserves its fair share of public transportation service with taxpayer dollars. Expect Congress to work on a massive “farm bill,” too. We will keep an eye on these and all other issues that could pop up which directly affect us living abroad. In addition, we will continue to closely monitor issues affecting the U.S. Hispanic community.

Starting with winning gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, Democrats all across the country—with our help—have been winning state legislative seats, local races, and even a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama—something unthinkable to political experts even a year ago. We will need to carry on this momentum and redouble our efforts in 2018 in order to take back Congress. This starts with repealing and replacing Republicans.

For items shown below which pertain to you, please mark these dates on your calendar (hopefully you’re now using the fantastic DA Women’s Caucus calendar!).

* Jan. 2018 – Every single member of the DA Hispanic Caucus should triple-check and update your voter registration status to ensure your eligibility to vote, and also request a ballot for the upcoming several primary elections. Please don’t delay this action! And similar to changing the battery in your ceiling fire detector, it’s that time of the year where you should log on to the DA web site and update your details if anything’s changed, such as your U.S. voting address and which newsletters you want to subscribe to.

* Jan. 2018 – Please consider answering our chair’s call for assistance in either writing a testimonial or recording a short video about why you plan to vote. Contribute in either English or Spanish!

* Jan. 30, 2018 –Trump will make his first official State of the Union address. (Last year was an “address to the nation” type of speech.)

* Feb. 27, 2018 – Primary for special election for Arizona-8 congressional seat.

* Mar. 13, 2018 – Special election for Pennsylvania-18 congressional seat. The Democratic candidate is Conor Lamb – let’s get him some support!

*Apr. 24, 2018 – Special election for Arizona-8 congressional seat.

* May 2018 – The DA Hispanic Caucus will turn 1 year old. Pat yourself on the back and eat some “Freedom Fajitas” or “Tío Sam Tamales.”

* May 24-27, 2018 – DA international annual general meeting (open to all members of DA). Are there any Hispanic Caucus members planning on attending? Please let Ana and I know!

* June 2018 – U.S. expat taxes and FBAR forms due.

* Aug. 7, 2018 – Primary for special election for Michigan-13 congressional seat.

* Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, 2018 – Hispanic Heritage Month

* All throughout 2018 – Always a great cause if you can spare any donation is to contribute money on the DA web site. No other organization supports both the work of U.S. Democratic interests and the interests of Americans living abroad.

* Nov. 6th (Tuesday) – ELECTION DAY

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I will resist, rise, organize, and commit to vote. Will you join me in this New Year’s resolution?

Michael Ramos
DA Hispanic Caucus


Upcoming Congressional Tele-Town Halls – Mark Your Calendar!

 

Amigos – If you are a voter from within any of the below congressional districts, please consider joining your member of Congress’s tele-town hall.

 The upcoming tele-town halls are for voters in: Utah; North Dakota; Colorado-6; Pennsylvania-3; Texas-17; and Texas-30.

An essential part of political activism involves engaging directly with elected officials. In this case, the next best thing from an in-person meeting is a “tele-town hall.” Remember, members of Congress are accountable to us, the American people, regardless of where in the world we live. This is your chance to get some straight answers out of congresspersons live on-air and in a public forum.

If you need any guidance in trying to figure out what to ask your elected official, feel free to use any of the following:

For Latino-related items:

*What are you doing for the Hispanic community in your district?
*Will you support the Dream Act? If no, then why not?
*Every article I’ve seen talks about the negative effects on Hispanic-Americans if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. How would this be a positive thing for your Hispanic constituents?
*To cut taxes for the richest individuals and corporations, the Republican tax bill increases taxes for graduate students by 300 to 400 percent. These students typically earn $30K per year. Latino and African American students are more likely to receive Pell Grants & many take student loans. How is this good for your constituents, especially Latinos?

 For general overseas items:

*I support residency-based taxation for American citizens living abroad to be included in the Republican tax package. This would replace the current and unfair system of citizenship-based taxation. Why was this not included?
*As your constituent, I would appreciate it if you joined the Americans Abroad Caucus. Will you join? If no, then why not?
*As an overseas voter, what have you done to support your constituents living abroad?

 If you have a U.S.-based mobile or Skype phone number, it’s best to use that.  If you have a foreign phone number only, you can notate that in parentheses in the name or address field in the congressperson’s registration page.

_____________________

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Democrat-TX-30). November 28th, 7:00 p.m. CST. To participate, dial +1-877-229-8493 a few minutes before the start of the event. Then, dial the PIN number 114175.
(click here)

Rep. Bill Flores (Republican-TX-17). November 28th, 6:55 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., and November 30th, 6:55 p.m. – 8:00 pm. To participate in either of his “multimedia town halls,” dial +1-877-229-8493 a few minutes beforehand, and then PIN number 111954 (same number and PIN for both dates).
(click here

Rep. Mike Kelly (Republican-PA-3). November 28th, starting at 7:10 p.m. EST. To participate, dial +1-877-228-2184 the night of the event. From there, enter the ID event number 19013.
(click here)

Rep. Mike Coffman (Republican-CO-6). November 29th, 6:30pm-7:30pm MST. To participate, you must register for the event beforehand.
(click here)

Rep. Kevin Cramer (Republican-ND-At-Large). November 29th, 10:00-11:00 a.m. CST. The congressman hosts radio-based “town halls” on a regular basis. There are several avenues for you to submit questions, but I recommend sending them straight to the congressman over his email form, or you can submit questions (even over social media) to one of the radio outlets intended for the congressman.
(click here).

Sen. Mike Lee (Republican-Utah). December 13th at 6:00 p.m. MST. To participate, you must first register on the senator’s web site beforehand.
(click here).

________________________

 If you are able to get on the line with your congressperson, please let us know how it went!

 Keep in mind that the congressional tax debate is about to re-convene and we should all be wary of the #GOPTaxScam / #TrumpTaxScam.

¡Sí se puede!

-Michael Ramos
DA Hispanic Caucus

 


Hispanic Caucus: Update on DACA & Tax Reform in Congress

 

Hola amigos,

I'd like to update you briefly on two things: DACA and tax reform. Unsurprisingly, congressional Republicans have not taken any action to protect the future of Dreamers. However, there is a Democratic effort to force a vote on the Dream Act in the House of Representatives, and all hands on deck are needed to urge representatives to support it. ...As for the tax package moving through Congress, I have an update for you on where it stands, what it means for U.S. expats and Hispanic Americans, and why we should all oppose this so-called "reform." Please see the below information on these two important issues.

DACA

​Our Chair, Ana, recently polled some of our members on which issues you'd like us to focus on. One of the biggest responses was related to the DACA/Dreamers issue. As a reminder, "Dreamers" are those persons who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age -- mostly through no fault of their own -- and ended up becoming "American" in every sense of the word - except having a U.S. birth certificate. Around 800,000 Dreamers contribute enormously to the U.S. economy. They're our neighbors, colleagues, friends, students, doctors, and even military service-members. Through executive order, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to give Dreamers legal status and enable them to come out of the shadows. In an absolute flip-flop, President Trump scrapped the DACA program, leaving Dreamers emotionally in chaos with their now-uncertain future, and leaving Congress with little time to rectify the issue before the mass deportations begin.

So what are we going to do about it? Let's first quickly review what's been happening in Congress.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives realize the importance of helping Dreamers. Because that's what Americans do: we always lend a helping hand to those needing assistance -- unlike congressional Republicans, who appear to enjoy throwing concrete lifesavers to drowning victims. Fortunately, legislation exists which corrects this grave injustice. The Dream Act, legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress, stands a real chance of passing -- but only if it's brought up for a vote. Democrats have cosponsored bills, given floor speeches, and appeared in the media - all in support of Dreamers. Despite overwhelming support for allowing Dreamers legal immigration status, Republicans refuse to listen to their constituents and continue to re-name post offices and congratulate high school football teams as their "priority." 

Now it’s time to kick it up a notch.

In the House, Democrats can force Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to hold a vote on the Dream Act, but only if 218 members of Congress sign on to what's known as a "discharge petition." We're at 195 right now, so we really need to keep up the momentum and push representatives to sign on to it. Please check here to see if your representative is already signed on. If he or she isn't on there, send them an e-mail or call his or her office and 1) inform them that you are a constituent, and 2) ask that the representative "sign on to the House discharge petition for the Dream Act," especially if he or she is a Republican. If you do one tiny bit of activism today, this should be it. 

Tax Reform

 Secondly, I'd like to talk to you about the tax "reform" happening in the Republican-led Congress. If you're not following this topic in the news, the first thing you should know is IT'S NOT TAX REFORM AT ALL. 

 So how do we respond? I'd like to echo the call-to-action previously mentioned by Ana in that it's time to pick up the phones to call your senators and demand that they vote NO on the Senate tax bill.

 ​I ​also ​want to embed these phrases in your mind for ​u​se ​i​n social media: #GOPTaxScam and #TrumpTaxScam. ​ Spread the word on why senators should oppose these sorry excuses for tax legislation.​

 ​As you're celebrating Thanksgiving, undoubtedly your Republican friend or family member will ask you, "​Why are the two Republican bills "scams? ​"​​ ​Here's why: Both the House and Senate tax bills 1) body slam Latino families harder than a congressman from Montana, 2) ​significantly ​add to the ​national debt, 3) do indeed create millions of jobs -- OVERSEAS, 4) only benefit the wealthiest of Americans, 5) ​include absolutely zero reforms for Americans living abroad, 6) and in the Senate bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis ​showing that it ​would result in 13 million fewer Americans with health insurance​ -- and the list goes on and on.​ But the House and Senate tax bills are being "sold" to the American people with patriotic phrases like, "pro-growth," "stimulate the economy," "everybody's taxes are lowered," and "bipartisan reform." ¡Mentiras!

 As someone originally from urban areas, I know con artists and scams when I see them. Both the House and Senate tax bills are scams. Here is some additional information on how the Republican House/Senate tax bills would affect the U.S. Hispanic community and why we should all oppose these scams:​

* Newsweek article on the the impact of the #GOPTaxScam on Latinos

​* ​Remarks by DNC Chair Tom Perez on why this is a #TrumpTaxScam, especially for Latinos

​* ​Press release by Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham

​* Press release by the former CHC Chair Raúl Grijalva​

​* Blog post by Latino advocacy group UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza)

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