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Lofgren leads Dems in urging stop to ICE raids

A Bay Area congresswoman helped lead 146 House Democrats in urging President Obama to suspend Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids targeting Central American families and children.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Downey; and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., sent their letter to the White House just hours before the president was scheduled to deliver his final State of the Union address Tuesday. The entire Bay Area delegation except for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, signed the letter.

Lofgren is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

The lawmakers wrote that the Department of Homeland Security operation “has generated widespread fear and panic in immigrant communities and has far-reaching impacts beyond the alleged targets for removal.” And it has raised due-process concerns “including meaningful access to legal counsel for mothers and children after apprehension and DHS officers reportedly using deceptive tactics to gain entrance into private residences,” they wrote.

“For these reasons and others, we believe that this operation should be immediately suspended until we can ensure no mother or child will be sent back to a country where they would face persecution, torture or death,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Democrats blasted the Obama administration for failing to provide a comprehensive refugee solution for those fleeing from violence in Central America.

“Your Administration has used family detention, Spanish language communication campaigns in Central America urging people not to come to the United States, and financial assistance to Mexico to deter, arrest, and return those fleeing violence,” they wrote. “This strategy has proven to be ineffective, as mothers and children continue to arrive at our Southwest border seeking refugee protection. Desperate Central American mothers and children will continue to flee to the United States and seek protection, regardless of the deterrent actions taken by this Administration.”

A regional solution to the crisis should include refugee screening and resettlement, the use of safe havens in appropriate third countries, temporary protected status for those in the United States, the use of priority refugee processing, and other humanitarian remedies, all in cooperation with other countries and non-governmental organizations, they wrote.

“The goal of this comprehensive refugee approach should be to ensure that Central American refugees, particularly mothers and children, are able to live free from an endless cycle of violence and persecution,” the lawmakers concluded. “We urge you to immediately halt the current enforcement actions towards Central American mothers and children and take steps to engage in a comprehensive effort with our hemispheric partners to address this regional refugee crisis in an appropriate humanitarian manner.”

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Honda blasts GOP field on Asian-American issues

Rep. Mike Honda helped make the Democratic National Committee’s case Tuesday for why the Republican presidential candidates are both insulting to and bad for the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, as part of a broader DNC push to rally minority voters.

honda.jpg“On issue after issue, Republicans are pushing policies that will hurt the AAPI community,” Honda, D-San Jose, said on a DNC-organized conference call with reporters. “None of the Democratic candidates would even come close to the stupid rhetoric that the Republicans have put out there.”

Honda and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, took the GOP field to task on immigration, economics, education and climate change. Chu said that as “the Republican presidential circus” comes to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley for Wednesday’s debate, “Donald Trump is clearly driving the GOP’s presidential clown car,” but a closer look at other candidates’ words and policies reveals “they’re all wearing face paint and red noses.”

Chu noted not only Trump but also Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have spoken of ending constitutionally protected birthright citizenship, and Rand Paul and John Kasich have offered legislation to do exactly that. The fact that Ronald Reagan signed immigration legislation granting amnesty to up to 3 million people means he probably would be consigned to Wednesday’s “happy hour” debate for low-polling candidates if he were running today, she added.

Meanwhile, Republican disdain for setting a minimum wage and constant efforts to cut taxes deepest for the nation’s richest are not going to be “popular with the middle class and working Americans who have seen their wages remain stagnant” in recent decades, she added.

Honda – who represents the first Asian-American majority district outside Hawaii – said various Republican candidates have supported cutting class sizes and education budgets in their respective states, often showing more concern for waging war on teachers’ unions than for plummeting graduation rates and test scores.

And despite overwhelming scientific evidence of a significant human role in climate change, he said, Trump has insisted climate change is nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by China for economic gain. “And if you think he’s any different than any other Republicans running for president, you’re mistaken,” Honda said, adding they’re “living in a fictional, alternate universe when it comes to climate change.”

The DNC held similar calls Tuesday to decry GOP stances that affect the Latino community – with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, as spokespeople – and for the African-American community, with Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

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Gavin Newsom trashes Trump’s immigration plan

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, launched an animated web video Monday blasting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘s immigration plan, as Trump prepares to visit California for Wednesday’s GOP debate. Check the hair (Donald’s, not Gavin’s):

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Mike Honda blasts Jeb Bush on ‘anchor babies’

Rep. Mike Honda has added his voice to the chorus of Democrats and Asian Americans criticizing Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush for his comments about “anchor babies.”

The former Florida governor was in McAllen, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday when he defended his use of the term to describe children born in the United States to parents who immigrated illegally. He argued that he’s been “immersed in the immigrant experience” personally and said it’s “ludicrous” to say he used the phrase as a slur.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts, and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized efforts taking advantage of a noble concept which is birthright citizenship,” he said. “I support the 14th Amendment.”

“This language is a slur against all immigrants and has no place in our culture. We need to be focused on elevating the conversation and working towards real, comprehensive immigration reform,” said Honda, D-San Jose, who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Our country is one founded on a multitude of cultures and backgrounds, and such close-minded language goes against the foundation of our democracy. The 14th Amendment of our Constitution guarantees citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, and we cannot stand by and let anyone diminish that right,” he said. “In Silicon Valley – one of the most diverse areas of our country – we celebrate people from all backgrounds and their contributions to our nation. As the representative of the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States, and as a proud American of Japanese descent, I strongly condemn these statements.”

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Rocky Chavez gets rocky response at CoCo GOP

2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez was in Walnut Creek on Thursday evening to take questions from the Contra Costa County Republican Party – and many in the crowd didn’t like some of his answers.

Rocky Chavez at CoCoCoGOP 8-20-2015 (photo by Josh Richman)Chavez, R-Oceanside, is running for the seat that Democrat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year. The Democrats seeking the seat are Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana; the other Republican in the race is Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette, a former chairman both of the state GOP and of the Contra Costa County committee that Chavez addressed Thursday (though he wasn’t present).

It started off innocuous before the crowd of about 50 people at the Diablo Hills Country Club in Walnut Creek, as Chavez briefly summarized his background and bona fides.

Rocky “is not a made up name, it’s on my birth certificate,” he advised them. He described his father’s U.S. Marine Corps service in the Pacific during World War II and subsequent junior-college education on the G.I. Bill while working for U.S. Steel. He spoke of his own Marine Corps service – he retired as a colonel – as well as his elected offices and his children’s college and graduate degrees.

“It’s the California dream and it’s about education – that’s one of the real strong reasons I’m running for office,” Chavez said, adding he’s been asked why he’s not a Democrat. “I could never be part of a party that ensured 50 percent of Latino boys in Los Angeles don’t even graduate from high school. … If you have no education, you have no job and you have no future.”

Then the question-and-answer period began, and the crowd’s mood began to change.

Read more, after the jump…
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Will state GOP amend abortion, marriage stances?

Several California county GOP chairpeople are pushing to make sure the party doesn’t soften its stances against same-sex marriage, abortion rights, illegal immigration and gun control at its convention this September in Anaheim.

CA-GOP logoEight county chairs – including two from the Bay Area – wrote a memo to California Republican Party delegates last week urging support for the party’s current platform.

“We believe this is an excellent platform, reflective of our principles as a party,” the memo said. “It is one that Republicans have united around before and one that is consistent with Republican values nationwide. Tampering with the existing document at this juncture will divide the party and discourage the Republican voters.”

The chairs wrote that they expect the party’s drafting committee might amend four key planks at its meeting next Saturday, Aug. 1 in Los Angeles.

“There may be an effort to significantly change the language and message of three of these planks – Family/Marriage, The Right to Life, and Immigration. Also, we believe we may see an attempt to dilute a fourth plank – The Right to Bear Arms,” the memo said. “If this takes place, these four re-written and significantly weakened planks will be reflected in the Draft Platform. These changes would then make it to the Floor for a vote by all State Delegates at our Fall 2015 State Republican Convention.”

“It is crucial that these four planks be upheld rather than be incrementally chipped away,” the memo concluded. “This Platform will serve to motivate our numerous volunteers and voters who will be needed to Get Out the Vote and rally around our candidates in 2016.

The memo was signed by Alameda County GOP Chairwoman Lori Drake; Calaveras County GOP Chairwoman Vicky Reinke, Contra Costa County GOP Chairman Rohit Joy, Del Norte County GOP Chairwoman Karen Sanders, Fresno County GOP Chairman Fred Vanderhoof, Humboldt County GOP Chairwoman Annette De Modena, Mariposa County GOP Chairman Richard Westfall, and Siskiyou County GOP Chairman Richard Marshall.

The California Republican Party’s current platform says that because family is the foundation on which American society has grown and prospered, “we support the two parent family as the best environment for raising children, and therefore believe that it is important to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

On abortion rights, the current platform says the party supports “laws that protect unborn children from partial birth, sex selection, and tax-payer funded abortions, and abortions performed as a form of birth control or on minor girls without their parent’s notification and consent.”

“We believe that the question of abortion is a matter that should be left to the people through their elected representatives, not usurped by the United States Supreme Court, and believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed,” the platform continues.

On immigration, the state GOP’s current platform says controlling the border and enforcing all current laws is the only way to be fair to those who’ve come to the country legally. English should be the government’s official language, it says, with all election ballots and other government documents in English only. It calls for a worker visa program with tamper-proof, biometric ID cards for participants and heavy fines for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It calls for cross-deputization of state and county law enforcement personnel so immigrants who’ve come here illegally can be deported immediately upon completion of any criminal sentences. And it calls for “the termination of all federal and state benefits to illegal aliens other than emergency medical care.”

And on the right to bear arms, the state GOP’s current platform says “one of the first acts of a totalitarian society is to disarm its people. California’s gun control laws only serve to disarm law abiding citizens, not criminals. We oppose any further gun control legislation and support the right of all California citizens to own and bear guns and ammunition for any lawful purpose.”

The platform calls for statewide legislation setting reasonable criteria to let law-abiding citizens carry concealed weapons, and supports “allowing citizens to use deadly force to protect lives and property. We also support including all of these rights in the California constitution.”

“Finally, we call for the elimination of waiting periods to purchase firearms and instead support complete implementation of instant background checks,” the platform says.

See how these platform planks compare to polls of Californians’ public opinion, after the jump…
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