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Recent editorials from Texas newspapers

The Associated PressMay 21, 2019

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Texas newspapers:

The Monitor. May 19, 2019.

It’s graduation time in America. And if recent years are any indication, several of our nation’s top scholars will take to the podiums during commencement exercises and shock the assemblage by declaring that they aren’t U.S. citizens, or even legal residents. Such declarations, and their frequency, are clear proof that the lack of legal status, for which they are not at fault, doesn’t affect their achievement, their value as students, or their right to pursue their dreams of success in the only land they know.

Strangely, despite the obvious intelligence, abilities and potential of these top students, efforts continue to delegitimize them and have them summarily thrown out of this country.

Fortunately, reason continues to win out.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down the Trump administration’s efforts to end protections for U.S. immigrants who were brought here as children and have lived here their entire lives.

In its majority ruling, a three-judge panel ruled that the current administration was “arbitrary and capricious” in its efforts to kill Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals without giving good reason, or saying what would happen to them.

This is only the latest such ruling. Circuit Court decisions apply only to their respective regions of jurisdiction, but several other federal courts have ruled the same way.

Each ruling only adds to the pile of reasons that Congress members should step up their efforts to pass legislation that would settle the issue once and for all.

Even if the House and Senate don’t have enough votes to override President Trump’s inevitable veto, the bill would issue a statement from the many representatives of our nation’s people that this matter isn’t going away.

Previous efforts to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act have fallen short; it was most recently offered in 2017, but Republican opposition in both houses kept the bill from advancing.

The current Democratic Party majority in the House should be able to move it along, at least in that chamber.

The issue affects an estimated 800,000 young people, and many of them are our neighbors in the Rio Grande Valley. They were raised as Americans and their places of birth are as foreign to them as they are to most U.S. citizens. They literally would have no place to go in any country to which they would be deported.

We must remember too that improper deportations wouldn’t affect just the Dreamers, but also the families that would be torn apart and the communities that would lose their talents and contributions if they were to be kicked out of this country.

Even current Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry, as Texas governor, recognized that residency trumps nationality when he advocated for allowing Texas Dreamers to pay in-state tuition at the state’s universities.

With so much at stake close to home, Valley and Texas lawmakers should lead the charge in pushing this legislation forward. It undoubtedly will be a major campaign issue once again, and our representatives should use the high public interest to fight for the hundreds of thousands of young people whose lives, deeds and achievements have proven that they deserve to be recognized as Americans, with all the rights and protections that come with that recognition.


Houston Chronicle. May 20, 2019.

There are almost two dozen Democrats running for president. There may be more by the time you finish reading this sentence. It is a diverse group, even among the 13 white male candidates, but other than their differences in gender, race or life story, what sets them apart from each other? What do they bring to the table other than the prospect of defeating President Donald Trump a year from November?

One thing they all should bring is ideas — and specifics on how to pay for them and to make them politically viable, too. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are often cited as the leaders in this area, and are earning reputations as the field’s “idea candidates” through plans on how to tackle a host of issues. But this ignores Texas’ own Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development secretary, who has also put out robust policy proposals that merit attention.

Immigration and education are big, divisive national issues on which Castro comes by his expertise naturally. Texas is a border state where its 4 million foreign-born residents have boosted its fortunes immeasurably, and which has the second-highest number of people in the country illegally, after California. And, as San Antonio mayor, Castro led on early childhood education, establishing a program to fund pre-K for disadvantaged children that has become a model for many proposed pre-K programs in and out of Texas.

Castro’s ideas are worth examining, and his example like Sanders’ and Warren’s is one that other candidates should emulate. A campaign without ideas is an empty promise.

Castro breaks his immigration plan into three broad sections: He addresses immigrants already are here illegally and those who are coming, as well as offering support for Central American countries from which so many asylum-seekers are fleeing.

He would include a pathway to “full and equal citizenship,” protection for Dreamers, changes to make it easier for families to reunite, stop the deportation of veterans, and strengthen labor protections for workers. These proposals would allow the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally to emerge from the shadows, as well as end the uncertainty and anguish millions of mixed status families live in, when they can never know when their luck will run out and a family member will be detained.

Castro would also take the immigration courts away from the Department of Justice and place them within the judiciary. He would also adequately fund to those courts so they can hire enough judges and other workers to process immigration cases and asylum requests more quickly and more fairly.

It is a smart, pragmatic approach that is worthy of debate among the Democrats. It also reveals the president’s recently unveiled immigration efforts as unfocused and lackluster, and directly counters Trump’s claims that Democrats want “open borders, lower wages” and “lawless chaos.”

Castro’s education plan is also forward thinking and comprehensive.

He would launch high-quality, full-day preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds nationwide in an expanded version of San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA. Studies have shown that the most cost-effective investment in education is high-quality pre-K, which better prepares children for school and gives them the emotional tools they need to have a better chance at success later in life. Disadvantaged children who benefit from early childhood education are more likely to finish college, are less involved in crime and have better health outcomes.

Castro proposes big changes in higher education, too. He would eliminate tuition at public universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational programs. He also proposes student-loan reform, including some debt forgiveness. The plan also boosts teacher pay, encourages parent involvement and extends the community schools model, which brings much-needed services to poor communities.

The other Texan in the race for the Democratic Party nomination, Beto O’Rourke, should take note of Castro’s specifics. So far, the former El Paso congressman has focused on broader ideas and big-picture platitudes. Even his recent announcement, carried over the weekend on HoustonChronicle.com, that he favors smart gun control lacked the kind of specifics that make such proposals most credible.

There are dangers with telling people who you are. Castro’s education effort comes with a $1.5 trillion price tag over 10 years, which he’s suggested would be paid by rolling back and replacing the 2017 Republican tax cuts. The right won’t like his push to end immigration agreements between federal and local law enforcement agencies and the far left will not like that he reforms, but does not abolish, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But it takes courage to stake out a claim and hope your opponents don’t take that stake to your heart. It’s just that kind of guts and big ideas that the country needs.

Thanks to their willingness to spell out their proposals in detail, voters know where Warren, Sanders and now Castro stand on these issues. Where are the other Democrats?


Fort Worth Star-Telegram. May 20, 2019.

This newspaper’s Editorial Board has been privileged to meet with a great number of newsmakers over the years.

Just recently we met with Sibulele Sibaca, a South African who, at 16, became one of 2 million AIDS orphans, and who today is an articulate global ambassador for the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and poverty. Prior to the May 4 local elections, we met with nearly every candidate for Fort Worth mayor and council, Arlington mayor and Tarrant Regional Water District. We’ve met with innumerable community representatives about myriad subjects. We’ve sat down with candidates for the highest offices in the state and nation.

Inexplicably, every one of those occasions was infinitely easier to arrange than a meeting with this city’s own former chief of police.

A full month ago the Editorial Board became increasingly concerned about Chief Joel Fitzgerald’s relationship with the community — following the revelation that he’d written a letter last December, which he never sent, saying he was disparaged in performance evaluations because he’s black.

But it took three weeks to schedule the meeting — and he was fired Monday before the Tuesday meeting could take place.

The strange odyssey in trying to obtain an audience with Fitzgerald speaks to the frayed relationships the chief had within and without his department — a fact cited by City Manager David Cooke in announcing Fitzgerald’s firing.

Fitzgerald’s handling of racially charged arrests of black women in 2016 and 2017 earned him criticism that has yet to completely dissipate. He was, for a time last year, expected to leave for the chief’s position in Baltimore, resulting in further frays in his ties here. More recently, Chief Fitzgerald was kicked out of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas earlier this month for not having joined the Fort Worth Police Officers Association as required.

Then, in what may have been the coup de grace, Fitzgerald is said to have initiated a heated confrontation with the state union’s president during a National Police Week gathering in Washington, D.C., May 13.

That incident was a high-profile embarrassment for a community proud of its ability for disparate folks to get along. As Cooke notes, our chief of police must realize he represents the city at all times, places and circumstances. He or she must do so with dignity and calm. Fitzgerald did not.

In the end, Fitzgerald lost the support — or failed to even seek it — of many inside and out of city government. His impending departure hung in the air even before news of it leaked prior to Monday’s press conference.

As Cooke noted in his press conference, being chief of police of such a large department and such a diverse, demanding community is not an easy task. Fitzgerald made it more difficult still, by seeming not to care about either personal or public relations. And one’s tenure in a job is likely pretty finite once penning the kinds of frustrations with one’s employers as Fitzgerald did in his December 2018 letter.

He seemed the right pick when hired in 2015, and we had hoped, prior to these latest incidents, that his relationship with the community could be repaired. That would have required more effort than he was apparently willing to produce.

Fitzgerald’s tenure has roiled the department and the city. Interim Chief Ed Kraus, and the eventual permanent replacement, will have bridge building at the top of the to-do list.

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