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

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.

Color Blindness is Counter Productive

When I was younger, I thought I was enlightened and would proclaim that I was “colorblind” when it came to race. I would happily befriend anyone and their race didn’t make a difference to me.

anytown.png

I was fortunate enough to attend a camp called “Anytown”. It was a camp where kids of all races and religions came together to learn about each other’s experiences and break down barriers that keep us from truly being free from prejudice. I quickly learned from them that being a minority is reflected in their daily lives in a way that I could never understand. Thinking of them in a “colorblind” way was dismissive of their life experiences and ignored a big a part of who they were as people. This applied to my LGBTQ friends as well. It was a valuable lesson to learn. It is important to treat all people equally without dismissing their identity in the process. Since my days at Anytown, I have worked hard to listen more intently to what my diverse friends are saying and have sought to use my “white guy” privilege to amplify their voices whenever possible.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/color-blindness-is-counterproductive/405037/

There is No Moral Ambiguity

To hear the leader of our great nation, Donald Trump, yet again defend the worst of our nation; unapologetic white supremacists, is disgusting. It completely underscores the fact that he once again proves that he is wholly unfit to serve as President of the United States. There can be no equivocation when it comes to white supremacy. It is evil and the real leaders of this nation have always understood this. From Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama, our presidents, democrat and republican, have made very clear that hate and bigotry have no place at the table in this country. 

I implore Republican leaders, including my opponent Patrick McHenry, to not merely speak pious, generalities about racism and hate, but wholly condemn Donald Trump for his inablitity to disavow white supremacy.  I believe some things are beyond party and allowing Donald Trump to continue with his hateful agenda whether because of party loyalty or political expediency is completely unacceptable. I know there are people of good will in both parties who truly want what is best for this country. But any respect I have for the other party is rapidly fading as they refuse to stand up and say enough is enough. To defend this man at this point will prove to be the downfall to a once great party.  While I have largely disagreed with republican policies and how they define what the American dream is, I have, until now never thought they were anything but honorable and ready to defend the basic tenets American democracy. But that is currently in doubt. Now is an opportunity for my opponent and his colleagues to act for the good of the country and stand up to the President and refuse to allow him to take us down this very dangerous path toward authoritarianism.

America fought a great war and lost many brave men and women fighting against fascism. It is not ok to support those who continue to believe in these evil ideals, especially when it is president of this United States. Until we address the poison at the very top levels of our government we will continue to slide down the road to authoritarian rule. America is a great nation. We have not always lived up to our ideals, but we have been prodded along by visionary leaders from all walks of life who paved the way to a better day by their leadership. We cannot allow America to continue down this road. Who are the leaders for this time? We are awaiting your response. Republican leaders, we are waiting. Rep. McHenry, we are waiting. We are waiting for you to do the right thing. Will you?

Condemnation of the “Unite the Right” Rally

I’m am saddened and embarrassed for America that some of our citizens seem unable to learn from history.

The current administration came to power by using the politics of division to stoke the unfounded fears of an economically stressed population. They fanned the flames and now we see the fire they’ve created.

I reject on every level the goals and claims of these witless protesters. I condemn the violence in Charlottesville that is occurring because of their mindless hatred.

America is greater for its diversity and inclusion. True liberty is not limited to a handful of people based on the happenstance of their birth.

I call on law enforcement to protect those who have put themselves in harms way to stand up and peacefully protest in the name of the ideals of inclusion, compassion, and unity.

Americans must stand together in condemning white supremacy and white nationalism. While our government must protect free speech, we as its citizens have a right to strongly reject violence, hate speech and blatant intimidation in the marketplace of ideas. This is not who we are as Americans. Now is the time for Americans of conscience to make their voices heard and proclaim racism and all other forms of bigotry will not be tolerated. This is a seminal moment in our nation’s history. I believe in the basic goodness of the American people and hope the strides that were made in the previous administration will be restored and that we can return to the understanding that all people are created equal.

President Trump’s Policy on Trans Soldiers in the Military

Yesterday morning, President Trump issued a Twitter thread announcing a barring of Trans Americans from serving in our military. 

Yet again, our President announces an ill conceived policy that has no merit and one that harms American soldiers.

An American President should not seek to divide their citizens nor discriminate against any group  based on ignorance.

I am extremely proud of each and every American soldier who has fought for our Nation, no matter their personal identity choices. 

I implore the Administration to reverse this harmful policy immediately and to consult with our Joint Chiefs of Staff before making such policies ever again.

I stand with all of our trans citizens and will never be ok with any form of discrimination against them.