Things That Matter

Beto O’Rourke Dropped Out Of The Presidential Race But Julián Castro Is Holding On

As the primary race draws closer, the restrictions on who is allowed on the debate stage are getting tougher. Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro had announced mid-October that if his campaign didn’t raise $800,000 by Halloween his campaign would be over. While fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke announced the end of his campaign on Oct. 31, Castro’s campaign successfully pushed to raise enough money to keep his campaign going. In fact, he announced that they raised over $1 million for the month of October, well above the campaign goal.

“We’re not going anywhere,” campaign manager Maya Rupert told Politico. “Julián will keep being a voice for the voiceless, and a champion for the Americans who have been left behind. We will keep lifting up important issues others choose to ignore, and demonstrating by example why Secretary Castro is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump.”

Castro implored his supporters to keep his campaign going.

Credit: @MauraBarrettNBC / Twitter

In an email sent out to supporters, Castro put it bluntly: “If I can’t raise $800,000 in the next 10 days—I will have no choice but to end my race for President. The truth is, for our campaign, these debates have offered our only guaranteed opportunity to share my vision with the American people. If I can’t make the next debate stage, we cannot sustain a campaign that can make it to Iowa in February.”

Beyond logistics, Castro acknowledged the integrity of the campaign donors. “I started this campaign on a shoestring budget in the neighborhood I grew up in. I didn’t grow up a frontrunner. I didn’t have personal wealth to pump into this race,” he wrote in the email. “And we’ve built this campaign without a cent from super PACS or billionaires.” 

The Mexican-American politician now needs to poll higher than 3 percent in four national polls to qualify for the next debate.

Credit: juliancastrotx / Instagram

With the funds needed to campaign in battleground states, Castro is better poised to meet that DNC qualification. He has the 165,000 donors required to qualify but is still polling in low single-digit numbers. According to FEC filings, Castro’s campaign only had about $672,000 on hand at the end of September. Money goes far in elections, but it isn’t the deciding factor for campaign longevity. Beto O’Rourke had $3.3 million on hand by the end of September, a significantly higher amount than Castro, and Beto conceded.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders remains the Democratic candidate with the highest sum of cash on hand, at a whopping $33.7 million by the end of September. Both Sanders and Castro refuse to accept donations from super PACS or billionaires. Trump, however, had a reported $83 million on hand by the end of September.

Even, AOC asked her supporters to make a contribution, though she’s endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

On Nov. 1, Castro shared the good news from the backseat of a vehicle, saying, “I am so happy to announce today that, because of grassroots contributions from all over the country, we hit our $800,000 goal for the month of October.” Even better, he said, “We raised just over $1 million.” Castro effused gratitude as he spoke to the individual donors that make his campaign possible, “I just want to express my appreciation and say thank you to each and every one of you…Whatever you gave, I appreciate it. Thank you for believing in a campaign that is focused on lifting up the most vulnerable folks in our country and making sure that all of us can prosper in the years to come.”

The night before the deadline, Castro’s team hosted a call-a-thon to raise the remaining estimated $200k.

Credit: @juliancastro / Twitter

Of course, Castro’s campaign has a long way to go. He made sure to tell his supporters, “I also want you to know that this campaign, not only is it going to keep on going, but it continues to need your support. Spread the word. Talk to your friends, your family, your coworkers. We’re going to make a strong push to try and get onto the debate stage and go on. Take care.”

Halloween wasn’t so scary for Castro’s campaign after all.

Credit: juliancastrotx / Instagram

“THANK YOU!” Castro tweeted Friday. “With the help of tens of thousands of donors across the country, we reached our $800k fundraising goal—and crossed the $1M mark for the month of October. We’re going to keep pushing to make the debates and raise issues others won’t address. Thank you for your support.”

In response, one supporter tweeted, “You are very welcome! Keep fighting for racial justice in public policy hermano! We stand with you and your vision for humane and dignified treatment for our communities 🦋.”

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change

Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee

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Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee

Juan Escalante @JuanSaaa / Twitter

A new proposal brought forth by immigration officials might hike up the cost of immigrants entering the United States as children. According to a New York Times report, the Trump administration proposal would increase fees for applicants by more than 60 percent and handover more than $200 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Friday, the Trump administration proposed increasing a “range of fees” tacked onto applications for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship.

If it is sent into motion, the proposal would increase citizenship fees by more than 60 percent. Under the new plan, fees for applicants would skyrocket from $725  to $1,170. The proposal would also allow the government to charge asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. Such a rule would make the United States one out of four countries in the world to force asylum seekers to pay for applications. Australia, Fiji and Iran all charge for asylum protection. 

If instituted, the proposal would be yet another roadblock implemented by the Trump administration to restrict immigration through legal means.

Over the past few months, immigrants and immigration advocates have seen similar attempts at hacking through the rights of immigrants before. Recently the Trump administration issued a series of policies that work to withhold permanent residency to immigrants in the United States have been deemed incapable of financially supporting themselves. They have also blocked entry to immigrants applying for visas on the basis of health insurance status. On October 4, 2019, Trump published a Presidential Proclamation that prevents entry to visa applicants are unable to provide proof of their ability to obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the United States. 

“Healthcare providers and taxpayers bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare.  Hospitals and other providers often administer care to the uninsured without any hope of receiving reimbursement from them,” the proclamation read. “The costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.  In total, uncompensated care costs — the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients — have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last 10 years.”

 Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration called the new policy, “one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable.”

“Currently, USCIS is conducting its biennial fee review, as required under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, to study the agency’s revenue, costs and needs,” a spokesperson for USCIS told BuzzFeed News. “As always, USCIS will publicly communicate information on its fee review through a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the federal register, should a decision be made to adjust its fees. No determination has yet been made.”

Immigration advocates on social media have been quick to slam the proposal as unfair. 

“The proposal to get rid of fee waivers is a whole statement and stand against the poor. From the public charge stuff to this. Worse thing too is this is how people actually feel,” film director Angy Rivera wrote in a thread that lambasted the policy. “The Department of Homeland Security’s plan will be open to public comment for 30 days starting Nov. 14. Make sure to flood them!”

Other users who quick to underline the significance of taking the funds from these applicants and transfer them to  Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration plans to “transfer money raised through the new proposed fee schedule to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency under DHS that carries out deportations, workplace investigations and other immigration enforcement actions. The money would be used to root out any potential fraud in future applications for citizenship, green cards, asylum and other immigration benefits.” 

“At this point I feel like they are just putting numbers in hat, and tossing it around. This is money we use to live and maintain our families, minimum wage ass job won’t cover this. This is just business to make money, y’all taking advantage of us,” Cristal Ruiz Rodriguez wrote in a tweet.

There’s no doubt that the Trump administration’s latest attack on immigrants is a wealth tax.

The Trump administration’s new policy would not be applicable to immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for asylum. 

Melissa Rodgers is the director of programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and told the Washington Street Journal that the proposed fees would be unaffordable for those who could have had a chance at citizenship.

“This is a wealth tax on becoming a U.S. citizen,” Rodgers said in a statement. “It’s part and parcel of the assault on the naturalization process.”

Latin America’s First Indigenous President Is Forced To Resign After Weeks Of Protests And Irregular Election Results

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Latin America’s First Indigenous President Is Forced To Resign After Weeks Of Protests And Irregular Election Results

José Luis Rodriguez / Getty

Protests are occurring throughout Latin America as calls for environmental and economic justice strengthen from Chile and Brazil to Venezuela and Ecuador. Now, Bolivia has become the latest flash point for the growing widespread movements across the region.

What started as a protest against President Evo Morales seeking an additional presidential term (he was constitutionally term-limited) has resulted in his abrupt resignation and in what many are calling a coup.

President Morales resigned the presidency after he lost support from the Bolivian police and military.

Bolivia’s political crisis deepened Sunday as President Evo Morales resigned amid allegations of “serious irregularities” during last month’s election and pressure from the country’s armed forces.

Morales faced mounting protests in the aftermath of the October 20 vote as demonstrators and the Bolivian opposition accused electoral authorities of manipulating the vote count in favor of the incumbent. He denied the allegations and declared himself the winner, but was eventually forced to resign

But what led to his resignation?

In the hours after polls closed, preliminary results showed Morales slightly ahead of his opponent, former President Carlos Mesa. But the opposition and international observers became suspicious after election officials stopped the count for about 24 hours without an explanation. When the count resumed, Morales’ lead had jumped significantly.

Electoral monitors from the Organization of American States (OAS) published a report Sunday alleging irregularities that impacted the official vote count.

In the aftermath of the report, Morales initially promised new elections would be held and the country’s electoral council replaced. However just hours later the president had resigned after the head of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Cmdr. Williams Kaliman, asked Morales to step down in order to restore peace and stability.

The decision follows weeks of raucous anti-government protests across the country. 

Demonstrators have burned down the headquarters of local election offices, set up blockades, and paraded a mayor barefoot through the streets after cutting her hair and showering her in paint.

Many are calling this an outright coup committed by the military and US-backed politicians.

The international reaction has been swift and vocal.

On Monday, Mr Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, struck a defiant note on Twitter, saying that “the Bolivian people have never abandoned me and I will never abandon them”. He has also said that he was the victim of a “civic coup”.

International allies of Mr Morales echoed his characterisation of what had happened. The Russian foreign ministry said that “the wave of violence unleashed by the opposition didn’t allow the presidential mandate of Evo Morales to be completed”.

Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said that events in Bolivia constituted “a coup because the army requested the resignation of the president, and that violates the constitutional order of that country”.

Spain also expressed its concern over the role of Bolivia’s army, saying that “this intervention takes us back to moments in the past history of Latin America”.

But what do Bolivians actually think of all of this?

Mr. Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2006. He has earned praise for fighting poverty and improving Bolivia’s economy but drew controversy by defying constitutional term limits to run for a fourth term in October’s election, which is alleged to have been rife with irregularities.

The biggest criticism of Evo Morales was his lack of respect for Bolivia’s democracy – accused of overstaying his welcome and refusing to step down. 

But the fact that the military has called the shots on the president standing down does not do much for Bolivia’s democracy either. 

Now Evo Morales has gone, there is a power vacuum. Increasing numbers of his Mas party are resigning, and it feels like there is a need for retribution – for Evo Morales and his people to pay the price for the mistakes they made while in power.

His supporters have called this a coup – his detractors the end of tyranny. The priority now is to choose an interim leader, call new elections and bring a polarised Bolivia together or face yet more unrest and violence in the coming weeks.