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.
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.
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 use in 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)
Furthermore, Republicans like to tout that their tax bills have moved through "regular order." Make no mistake, the picture immediately below shows what regular order generally looks like - regardless of which party is in charge - when Congress moves forward in the legislative process. Both parties contribute to the process, have open hearings and debate, allow for amendments and lets the public scrutinize legislation before elected officials vote to pass it.
Unfortunately, the #GOPTaxScam has been anything but regular order. Both House and Senate tax bills were literally written behind closed doors and strategically designed to benefit the wealthiest Americans with the sneaky appearance of "But... but... we're cutting taxes for 'all' Americans." Spoiler: it’s false.
From the bills' inception before their introduction to both chambers of Congress, they were written exclusively by the White House, Republicans in Congress, and corporate lobbyists. How else on earth could they explain the pro-corporate tax cuts? Middle-class families and average-wage earners certainly didn't advocate for corporate offshore tax relief, skimming $300 billion from Medicaid, gutting the historic buildings tax credit and higher education student loan deduction, and Republicans know it. The below picture shows exactly what has been happening.
So here's an update on the process: Democrats have been shut out entirely of the tax process, despite what Republican leaders have been saying (i.e. "an open, transparent, and democratic process" - yeah right). The House of Representatives has already passed its version of tax reform. The Senate has advanced its bill past the committee stage, and now the full Senate will be voting on it in a matter of days (an updated version of the bill isn't available online yet). The yet-to-be-passed Senate bill is what we need to kill.
Again, the time for action is now. Call your U.S. senators. If he or she is a Democrat, thank him or her for publicly voicing opposition to the tax bill. If your senator is a Republican, tell his or her office that you're a constituent and then urge, insist, and demand that he or she votes NO. This is especially important if you vote in Arizona, Florida, or Alaska.
Tax reform is critically important, but defeating the #TrumpTaxScam and #GOPTaxScam is just as important right now. #NotOnePenny to the richest of the rich.
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Spread the word about us to your country committee and local chapters. Any DA member is welcome in the Hispanic Caucus.
¡La lucha sigue! The fight continues!