A Letter to Conservatives

Dear conservative friends and neighbors,

I am not your enemy.

I am not a socialist or a communist. I am not for taking your money to give to someone else. You work hard for what you earn, and you deserve a good return on your investment from the taxes you pay. We have made a pact to collectively pay for things that we cannot achieve on our own: military and police for our protection; public schools for our children’s education; roads and bridges so that we can get goods and services all over our nation; a legal system to settle differences; and many other things necessary for a modern society.

I am a capitalist who believes we need protections for consumers, for our workers, and for our environment. I believe without these protections that naked greed will destroy these pillars of our economy. Republican leaders would lead you to believe that good regulations are the enemies of successful businesses, but only someone willing to risk the welfare of our citizens or our environment would believe that.

I am not out to destroy your culture. American culture is enriched by diversity and the dream that we all have the opportunity to succeed and achieve more than we were given at birth. Republican leaders want you to believe that for other working-class people to succeed, it has to be at the expense of your own chance for success.

I believe that immigrants are a net positive for America. Companies decide who they will hire, so how is it possible for an immigrant to steal a job from you? Furthermore, we now have near record unemployment. Here’s the problem: greedy corporations are making record profits, but not paying their workers a living wage. Our government has to bridge the gap so that people can survive. This is corporate welfare at its worse.

The real job killer is automation, not immigrants. Corporations will gladly replace workers with robots and computers that cost less and work faster and more efficiently. By 2030, we will lose 73 million jobs in the US to automation and artificial intelligence.

I believe in equal protection under the law for everyone, not just the wealthy who can afford to pay for good legal representation. That includes equal treatment by law enforcement and a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I believe in a fundamental right to privacy. The data about your healthcare, your communications, and your financial transactions must be protected from anyone but yourself. I believe that your decisions between you and your doctor should remain between you and your doctor alone.

I believe that healthcare should be a right in America. I believe that for less than we are already paying for healthcare collectively, we can all have excellent health services if we cut out the middleman private insurance industry that profits from denying access to necessary health treatments.

I believe that America has succeeded because of our decision to work together to achieve more than we can do on our own and the protections intended to protect the least of us from the worst instincts of human nature. That is the very definition of American exceptionalism, or what makes America great.

Well Regulated

I’m completely crestfallen to have to express my sorrow yet again over the tragic loss of life in a mass shooting, this time in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Enough.

Let me be clear. I recognize and support the right to bear arms as enshrined in our country’s constitution. However, I believe some 2nd Amendment advocates willingly choose to ignore the full text of that amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

nrasign
Sign in the lobby of NRA headquarters, intentionally trimmed

We can have meaningful regulation and still protect second amendment rights. The great news is that a majority of Americans, even a majority of gun owners agree on many common sense regulations. But we can only have meaningful change when we are willing to take on the gun industry lobby. Make no mistake, the NRA no longer represents those responsible gun owners who own guns for protection, work needs, and sport. The NRA is only out for gun manufacturers. If NRA members felt like they had enough guns, gun industry profits would sink. So the gun industry and the NRA keep people afraid for their safety and afraid that their government wants to confiscate their gun. So they have chosen their profits over the well-being of all Americans, drawing a hard line against ANY regulation, even policies that would make huge differences.

This is why I embrace the goal of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America. This group, formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has one very important focus: eliminate any and all background check loopholes. Every person who buys a gun must pass a background check. Period.

They are motivated because guns have become a major health risk to Americans, especially women and children. One of the surest indicators that someone will engage in gun violence is domestic abuse. I will share more information soon that highlights the focus on this critical area of failure, but we must eliminate access to guns for convicted domestic abusers and protect their accusers during the vulnerable time after the abuser is charged.

“There’s clearly something at play that brings together extreme anger and physical acting out against family members or domestic partners in a disturbing way.”

Those in the NRA’s pockets will quickly blame  “mental health issues” as the reason why this mass shooting or the inevitable, it seems, next one,  could not be prevented. But they’ve shown their gross hypocrisy on this by cutting mental health funding/access and by the eliminating gun restrictions for those with serious mental health diagnoses.

Researchers say there’s no traceable link between mental health problems and mass shootings.

There are many reasons America is a great nation but being a leader in violent gun deaths is one area where Americans should avoid excelling.

NYC Attack

Yesterday’s terrorist attack in New York once again displays how vulnerable we are to persons willing to do anything to spread their ideology of hate. I cannot fully express the sadness that I feel for the victims and their families. No one should have to experience what they are experiencing.

We need to protect ourselves against extremism, but we must not use this as an excuse to further the cause of bigotry and Islamophobia. Hate is the same no matter the source. We must work to understand one another and address grievances in a peaceful manner. It doesn’t matter how many police or soldiers we put in place if we cannot reach out, seeking to change hearts and minds. This only happens through diplomacy and outreach. Only then can we say we are safe.

Why I’m Running

Every day we’re hearing about more things coming out of the Trump administration that in the past were unthinkable. This is our reality now. Instead of worrying about whether our kids will eventually get into a good college or find a good job we’re worried about whether we’re going to enter into a new world war. We’re worried about our neighbors and our friends, those who don’t look like us or carry the privileges we have. We’re seeing this administration target minority groups in ways that make us less safe and less free as citizens and as a nation. This is not the America I know.

I have met many people across party and demographic lines from the district in the short time I’ve been campaigning. I’ve met people who care about many diverse issues. Coal ash and affordable college. Gun control and gerrymandering. Free press and free speech. Healthcare and higher wages. Voter suppression and taking care of our veterans. We may disagree on how we address these issues, but one thing unites us; we all care. We care about the future of our families, our district, and our country.

I want to defeat Patrick McHenry. But that will require resources. We need your help. We need volunteers and we need contributions. I want the backbone of my campaign to be the individual citizens who are compelled to support the change they desire. But a blanket stand against corporate money is not representative of our district. Corporations are not just the mega-corporations who refuse to provide living wages and work to destroy our labor unions, stifling our middle class. Corporations include small businesses. They’re not the 1%. They’re hard-working Americans who have built something that contributes to the communities where they do business.

I’m not an establishment politician. I don’t come from money nor do I have big donors backing my campaign. The way I talk about making corporations pay their fair share of taxes is not going to win me big corporate dollars. But if I made a pledge of no corporate dollars, I’d be a liar if I later took money from a small business in our district who agreed with our progressive message that includes putting the needs of small businesses above massive subsidies to big corporations.

I support public funding for elections.  I believe in forcing our representatives to compete on an even playing field so that if they fail to serve the people they represent, a challenger has a fair opportunity to defeat them.  Big money should not be able to have a finger on the scales of electoral justice. I believe in overturning Citizens United. I hope, in office, I can be a leader in making those changes happen. But that is not the system that we have today and we’re in a David versus Goliath fight for the soul of our country.

I have been taking the time to get to know the people of our district- what matters most to them, what their concerns are. I have supported those candidates in municipal elections that offer an agenda of progress. When I get the opportunity to meet with citizens, I spend more time taking questions and listening than I do talking. I passionately want to represent all of the people in the district.

Right now we have a representative who does not represent the interests of the people of the district. He says that he’s “proud” to further Trump’s dangerous domestic and foreign policy agenda. He voted against quality healthcare, against protections for our environment, and against common sense gun control. He does this because he’s been paid to represent the interests of his donors whose interests directly conflict with the interests of his constituents. He doesn’t care.

I promise to remain a true representative of the people of this district. I promise to only accept funding from persons and groups that do not conflict with the best interests of this district. I promise to fight every day for a progressive agenda that will lift up our district and not line the pockets of the most affluent in this country. I hope you will support me and join in this fight. And I look forward to continuing to get to know you and listening to your concerns. We can only win if we unite behind our common goals. Apathy and passivity can no longer be what defines us. If we truly care about moving forward and prospering as a country and a district we must fight, we must resist. We are in this together. We must fight and win for District 10 and for our future as a nation. Together, we can take back our district and our future.

Protecting the Right to Protest

The First Amendment explicitly protects freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest police violence against minorities and the system that protects police officers from the consequences of their actions is a right guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution. It is not disrespectful to question your government when you believe that it is unjust in the way it treats people. It a patriotic duty for us to speak out.

The attempts to sully peaceful protest by accusing them of dishonoring those who gave their lives serving in the military is distasteful and completely misunderstands the reason they sacrifice themselves for our country. Our service men and women sacrifice so that you can protest or not protest. That is what freedom is all about. They don’t fight for a flag. They fight for the ideals that the flag represents. The First Amendment is fundamental to our democracy and we must protect it. Otherwise, we will lose it.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/29/sport/colin-kaepernick-flag-protest-has-history-trnd/index.html

DACA is Only the First Step

I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. We are a nation of immigrants. From the time of our founding, this country has been a place of refuge for people fleeing from persecution. Some of the founders of our Republic, most notably, Alexander Hamilton were from other countries. Our shores have been open to anyone fleeing persecution or seeking a better life in a place of seemingly endless opportunity.

Many of our ancestors made it to Ellis Island with nothing more than the clothes on their and were accepted into the country. They went on to build our cities, bridges, and roads. Their children have made America what it is and to say otherwise is to speak nonsense. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants.

Unfortunately, we have not always been welcoming.  In the 1880s, Congress passed a law banning all Chinese immigrants from immigrating to the country. In 1921 they passed quota laws. These laws put limits on immigration. The laws favored European immigrants over others and set strict quotas on the rest. These laws were on the book until 1965 when Congress passed the Immigration and Naturalization Act that did away with quotas and allowed families to sponsor relatives from their countries of origin. Immigration was made simpler and because of that, countries that had once been strictly limited in their immigration such as Latin America and Asia now had the same right to immigrate as anyone else.

Our country has gone through cycles of liberality and restriction and now it seems we have gone back to restrictive immigration policies that welcome some and exclude others. People with brown skin are being told they are not welcome here. This is unamerican and goes against the founding principle of equality that is the basis of our entire system of government.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the current administration ending the DACA program. The “Dreamers” were brought here by their parents. They did not choose to come here. How could they choose when the average age was six? But they are here. This is the only country they’ve ever known. Some were too young to remember their country of origin while others have never made trips back. Some don’t even the speak the language of the country they come from.

They have businesses, own homes, serve in the military and teach our children. They have no criminal records because if they did, they wouldn’t be allowed either to enroll or renew their status. There are 800,000 people living here under DACA status and it is a travesty that they should have to live with the uncertainty they currently face. This program should be put into statute and if I am elected I will fight to see that it is. They should not only be allowed to stay, but they should also have a path to citizenship.

But fixing this one program barely puts a dent into fixing our immigration system. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to enable those folks that are here undocumented to have a way to change their status and receive a path to citizenship.

We also need to streamline the process of getting legal status. With today’s technology, it shouldn’t take years to do satisfactory vetting. We should use the same criteria for all who wish to enter and not single out persons based on their religion or their country of origin.  We need to make the financial expense to immigrate less cumbersome. It takes up to $15,000 to ultimately attain legal status in this country thereby excluding the majority of people fleeing war, genocide and economic hardship in their countries of origin.

I believe that we should have adequate border security and a rigorous vetting process. But I also think Trump’s wall is both unnecessary and blatantly racist and I will oppose any attempts to fund a wall on our Southern Borders. We need security, but we also need to be fair.

Many of those coming from Mexico and Latin America are here as agricultural workers. They staff hotels, kitchens, and do many jobs Americans are unwilling to do. There should be a robust worker visa program that takes into account the economic impact of racial profiling folks coming from Mexico and Latin America. Without these workers, our economy will grind to a halt. It is a myth that they are taking jobs away from Americans.

A comprehensive study completed by Francine D. Blau shows that the overall impact of immigrants on the economy is positive. While the study does show first generation immigrants tend to require more in the way of assistant while they look for work, by the third generation they are here, they contribute around $223,000,000,000 to the overall economy. Laborers do the jobs Americans won’t and skilled workers contribute expertise and innovation which create jobs. There is no question, our economy would collapse without immigrants.

The same can be said for refugees. A study by Health and Human Services found that over ten years, refugees contributed $63,000,000,000 to the economy. Also, there have been no known terror attacks committed by refugees in this country in recent memory. No vetting system is perfect, but ours has been pretty stellar in its results regarding refugees.

We are a nation of laws. That is true. But we are also a nation of compassion. We have seen this in recent weeks as Americans have responded to the recent hurricanes. We understand what it means to help our neighbors. Do we want the world to see us as a fortress or as a beacon of freedom? I would prefer the latter. Wouldn’t you?

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/us/immigrants-arent-taking-americans-jobs-new-study-finds.html

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155005274470847&id=72186095846

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/15/north-carolina-needed-6500-farm-workers-only-7-americans-stuck-it-out/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/us/politics/refugees-revenue-cost-report-trump.html?mcubz=1

I’m Proud to be a Democrat

You would think that after what we’ve been through over the past few years and especially after the 2016 election, people would finally get past the false narrative that there’s no difference between the two major political parties.

I have a unique perspective on this. I served a Republican Congresswoman in the House of Representatives even though I am lifelong Democrat.

Sue Myrick was by many accounts a fair and reasonable Mayor of Charlotte. She was the first female mayor of Charlotte, elected in 1987, the year after my family moved here. In the early 90s, I was able to participate in Charlotte politics through my membership in the Youth Involvement Council. We frequently attended City Council and Mecklenburg County Commission meetings commenting and advising on matters related to youth in the community. I even spoke before each body a handful of times.

I didn’t know Mayor Myrick on a first name basis, but later, as she began her first year in office as a Freshman Representative, I was able to turn my previous interactions with her into an internship. I started with her in mid-May and worked until the first weeks of August. I was one of a few who stayed the full summer. I was only able to do the unpaid internship due to having an aunt who lived nearby in Maryland. I commuted in every day via train and walked from Union Station in the heat to her office in the Cannon House Office building.

I served the constituents of the 9th district, which at the time included a sizable portion of Gaston County. I answered phones, opened and sorted mail, gave tours of the Capitol and attended committee meetings. She served on the Budget, Science, and Small Business committees, so I attended meetings on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, the growth of the internet and the International Space Station construction. I would collect materials, take notes, and report back. It was an incredible learning experience.

David outside of Rep. Myrick's old office in Gastonia
David outside of Rep. Myrick’s old office in Gastonia

But while I was there, I began to see what has only gotten worse since then: the villainization of the other side. This was mostly from other Republican interns and staffers, but the talk about Democrats was filled with poison.  So I kept quiet about being a Democrat, and just blended in. In the end, it turned me off from pursuing a career in politics for a long time.

In the past decades, Republican politicians have moved from being a conservative, loyal opposition to becoming intransigent, completely unwilling to either compromise or negotiate. I miss reasonable Republicans and it seems many Republicans miss being them too. In the past few weeks, several prominent Republicans stood up against partisan gerrymandering because it’s hurting their party as well. Now there is no doubt that Democrats have used gerrymandering in states they’ve controlled. But never to the degree and with the precision used by Republicans to degree that they are being challenged with being unconstitutional.

The Republican assaults on voting rights have clearly helped them. Gerrymandering dilutes Democratic votes. Voter ID laws force people, the poor and elderly especially, to get IDs which cost time and money, hindrances to voting on par with a poll tax. Voter roll purges have bumped millions of legitimate voters from the active voter rolls and several Republican-controlled state legislatures have even reduced the number of poll locations in targeted areas as well as reducing early voting hours. We must put a stop to these attacks on the core of our democracy- the ability of legal voters to access the polls. Fortunately, Democrats are fighting every day for our right to vote.

Last year’s election exposed some weaknesses and brought up some frustrations within the party for sure. But Democrats have been behind some of the most important actions in our government in the past 100 years. From FDR’s New Deal to LBJ’s Great Society. From Carter’s Camp David Accords to Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Democrats have lead the way on Civil Rights and LGBTQIA Rights. Democrats have led the fight for universal healthcare since 1945. Democrats have championed workers’ unions and consumer protections. Nothing has happened overnight, and some things took longer than they should have. But again and again, Democrats side with the American people over corporate interests. Democrats actually fight for the working class and don’t just pay lip service then turn their backs. We deserve a government that delivers on the services that our taxes pay for and consistently, it’s the Democratic party that pushes for justice and equality. I am proud to call myself a Democrat and to stand with fellow Democrats.

Universal Healthcare: How Do We Get There from Here?

Healthcare should be a right for all Americans. The best way for this to happen will be when we finally provide universal healthcare. Most Americans agree with this. Our problem has always been having the political will to enact it. It’s been a long, winding road.

In remarks to Congress, Harry Truman said, “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.” This was 1945. There had been prior attempts as far back as the 19th century, but none had ever succeeded. Indeed Truman did not succeed. But, he did plant the seed to the next phase of healthcare provision in this country.

The first successful national legislation came in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law under the appreciative gaze of Harry and Bess Truman. These programs changed the health trajectory of millions of Americans. Since that time, countless lives have been saved because more people have access to medical care.

But as we know all too well, the journey to a fully implemented national healthcare system has had many stops and starts. The closest we have come is when, in 2010, Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, which has allowed millions of people who were either priced out of the market or had pre-existing conditions, to finally get affordable insurance. The poor have greatly benefited from the program as have the sickest persons. Unfortunately, everyone has not.

Many insurance companies have withdrawn from the program based on the uncertainties of funding. They have deemed the risk too high. Some insureds have faced rising premiums due to insurance companies pulling out of counties, even out of entire states. In some places, there is only one option on the exchanges. Much of this can be attributed to a miscalculation of how many young, healthy people would sign up instead of paying the tax penalty and also because all states did not accept the Medicaid expansion. Obamacare opponents in Congress and in state legislatures have hamstrung the program, setting it up for failure.

The Republicans have made a cottage industry out of repealing and replacing Obamacare. The major problem is, they had eight years to come up with a viable alternative and they didn’t. Since the Trump Administration took office they’ve learned the hard way that it is far easier to campaign against something than it is to repeal and replace something. People don’t take kindly to having benefits taken away after they have come to depend on them. If you don’t believe me, ask those Republican legislators who braved town halls. Ask the switchboard operators and congressional staff who have had to field thousands of phone calls, emails and faxes from extremely angry constituents demanding that they keep their hands of their healthcare.

Americans have found themselves pulled in two directions. On the one hand, the Republicans offer a stingy plan that would return pre-existing condition restrictions and allow insurance companies to sell bare-bones insurance plans to healthy persons which would be insurance on paper only. Meanwhile, the sickest people would be shunted into “high-risk pools” where they would receive coverage but at exorbitant prices. By the CBO estimate, at least 22,000,000 people would be without insurance over the next ten years.

On the other hand, you have progressives offering universal and single-payer proposals. Senator Bernie Sanders just rolled out his much-anticipated plan for Medicare for All. Senator Sanders ran on a platform that was built on a foundation of universal healthcare and now he has put some flesh on the bones. His proposal calls for a four-year rollout for full implementation. The proposal has the backing of at least 20 other Democratic senators.

Universal healthcare must happen in this country.  Healthcare is not a privilege. It is a human right. We are at a crossroads where the cost of medical treatment and drugs is completely out of control. Doctors and drug companies control the prices and government programs already in place are not allowed to negotiate pricing with pharmaceutical companies. The major problem that must be addressed is the rising cost of insurance and care. Unless we can come to a place where all Americans have healthcare that won’t bankrupt them, we will continue to see a downward spiral in the health of this nation. We will see the buying power of consumers further decrease. Universal healthcare is a key to prosperity.

But there is the immediate problem of what to do with the hundreds of thousands of people who would lose jobs were the insurance industry to become obsolete and unnecessary. It is estimated that there are over 600,000 persons employed in the health insurance industry according to ThinkProgress. Also, because hospitals and medical practices have built their billing around the high costs they have been able to charge, there is a fear that there would be hospital closures and massive layoffs associated with the government’s ability to negotiate and regulate medical and drug costs.

I believe healthcare is a right for all Americans. But, I also believe we must be careful how we implement any new government single payer options. We need to make universal coverage our goal, but we have to implement steps toward it that will not harm our economy and cause massive job loss.

I believe we should first, shore up the ACA. A good place to start would be to ensure that subsidies for low-income persons will continue. Unless these subsidies continue, up to 7 million people could be priced out of the market. I would increase the subsidy amounts so that people who make up to 60,000 a year may receive the cost-sharing subsidy.

Second, the individual mandate must be continued and strengthened so that insurance providers can offset the cost of paying for their sicker consumers. I would continue the current tax penalty, but increase the amount they will have to pay should they choose not to purchase insurance. I would also withhold any refund that would be available until proof of insurance is provided. Just as you cannot drive your car without insurance, you shouldn’t be able to go without penalty if you don’t have health insurance.

Once the markets are stabilized, I believe we must restore the public option that was in the original version of the Affordable Care Act. This was removed at the insistence of the Republicans as well as former Democrat turned Independent Joe Lieberman. Several proposals have been put forward on how to do this.  Senator Chris Murphy proposes that we allow people to buy into Medicare. This differs from Senator Sanders’ plan because his Medicare for All does not have premiums. You don’t buy in, you are automatically in. Most recipients of Medicare are satisfied with their coverage and enjoy benefits at a lower cost with low deductibles. The thinking is that when enough people are enrolled in Medicare, the private insurance market will gradually diminish and this will pave the way for single-payer, universal coverage.

We must maintain acceptable levels of benefits, including women’s health concerns. While abortion remains controversial, I would seek to put in place adequate funding for contraceptive services which includes safe, legal abortion. We must not continue making women’s lives and the choices they make to control their own bodies a secondary concern when it comes to healthcare. Women deserve to be able to access the full range of services they require to have healthy, happy lives.

While private insurance will decrease, there would still be opportunities for business by selling supplements. Coverage for things like cosmetic surgery or other elective procedures not considered medically necessary should be augmented on the private market and not at the expense of the taxpayers. Many Americans already purchase Medicare supplements to offset costs Medicare doesn’t cover. There will still be a need for these.

Once people have moved to this single payer option, then we move toward free Medicare for all.

Of course, it must be funded. John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan has put forth a bill, H.R. 676, which proposes funding from an array of sources.

The program is funded: (1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care, (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners, (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, (4) by instituting a tax on unearned income, and (5) by instituting a tax on stock and bond transactions. Amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), are transferred and appropriated to carry out this bill

Yes, there will be tax increases but they would be distributed based on income level. This would be taken out of your paycheck. Where you see deductions for Social Security and FICA, you would add a deduction for healthcare. The cost would be modest compared to the current premiums paid for health insurance. Also, the government already has billions of dollars dedicated to healthcare in the budget. Naturally, this would roll over into any new plan. One suggested addition to any legislation passed has been to add a line item to paychecks now that require your employers to show what they’re contributing to your healthcare premiums so when changes are made to the system, it will be harder for employers to keep the premium savings without compensation changes to the worker.

There are various ideas concerning a time table for moving to universal coverage. The Conyers bill sets a deadline of two years, while the Sanders proposal is four years. I recognize the longer we delay in implementing universal coverage, the more lives hang in the balance.

But the healthcare system in this country is both complex and cumbersome. There are trade offs to any change. I believe there needs to be adequate time allotted for the markets to adjust and absorb the new way of providing healthcare for Americans. I tend to believe it will take longer than four years for a complete transition and I believe adequate time should be given. If we fail to get this right, we will end up breaking both the healthcare industry and the economy in the process.

The time has come to move from conversation to action. I believe the American people deserve it. We must do our best to see to it that a parent no longer has to worry about cost when trying to take care of their sick child. The time has come where it doesn’t bankrupt a person when they have to care for an elderly parent. The time has come. The question is, will we have the will to do this? As your Congressman, I will work hard every day to make it so.

Defending the Dreamers

The decision to end the DACA program proves, yet again, the current administration’s craven heartlessness and lack of comprehension of the economic impacts of their desicions. Today our Attorney General announced the end of the program, claiming it was illegal yet announcing it will continue for six more months. President Trump later followed it up with a tweet that suggested if Congress wasn’t able to fix it legislatively during that six month period he would revisit the decision.

We need to reform our immigration process so people in search of a better life in America have a legal path to do so. We’re talking about human lives, moms and dads seeking a better life for their children.

I have some family roots that extend beyond the American Revolution, but many more came to America from overseas, often passing through Ellis Island. What happened to the America where people of any origin were accepted with open arms as long as they were willing to work hard? Why can’t we have a system that both protects American jobs AND accepts more than just highly educated immigrants into its ranks? 

Right wing media suggests that people who come here illegally are doing so to come in and take advantage of benefits reserved for citizens. We know that this is just not the case. In fact, if they are able to gain employment, they are paying taxes on their salaries without gaining the earned benefits those taxes pay for.

DACA recipients are ineligible for Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, Welfare, Section 8, ACA. The average DACA recipient is 26 and came to the US at age 6. 91% are employed; 100% have no criminal record. They pay $495 to renew every two years. Ending the DACA program is unwarranted and unwise. These are solutions for problems that don’t exist and deceiving the American people in the process. If any deserve a path to citizenship it is these young people.

America is greater for its diversity. It shouldn’t matter if you are first generation or tenth generation American. If you pledge to our allegiance, if you swear to uphold our Constitution, and if you work hard you deserve the opportunity to become a citizen. 

As your congressman I will work hard for ALL people including immigrants and dreamers to help reform our immigration system to better reflect what our country was founded on.

Please Give to Hurricane Relief

The people of Texas and Louisiana are experiencing the terrible devastation of Hurricane Harvey and will be doing so for months, even years to come. And now Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Southeast coast.

We humbly ask that those who wish to contribute to our campaign in the next two weeks contribute instead to relief agencies on the frontlines of the devastation.

Our recommendations for giving to victims of Hurricane Harvey is the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, started by Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, or the American Red Cross.

We will share a recommendation for Hurricane Irma when one is established.

Meanwhile, if you desire to help our campaign with your time, we now have a Volunteer sign-up form live on our site.