politics

She Went Viral For Showing That Undocumented People Pay Taxes, Now She’s On Sanders’ Campaign

belensisa / Instagram

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has added a new face to his 2020 campaign team in Belén Sisa. The addition is notable because Sisa made national headlines when she posted a selfie showing the undocumented people pay taxes. Sisa part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Her protected status is reportedly set to expire this year which could create some unwanted attention for her and Sanders.

Sisa has frequently spoken out about DACA and other issues important to the immigrant community which, at times, has gotten her in trouble.

Credit: @belensisaw/Twitter

Sisa wrote about the news on Facebook recognizing the importance of her position and the path it took to get there. For an undocumented person to be working on a political campaign is something that doesn’t happen often.

“This is really emotional for me. I can’t help but think of 18-year-old Belén, who felt hopeless and powerless to the anti-immigrant attacks and policies that were holding her back from her dreams,” Sisa wrote in a now deleted Facebook post.  

Sisa, who is is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and lives in Phoenix, Arizona, is a huge advocate for immigration rights. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2018 where Sisa was vocal about DACA and abolishing ICE. Sisa was even arrested twice for participating in various protests.

Sisa isn’t a stranger to working on Sanders’ campagins.

While the appointment of deputy press secretary is new, Sisa has previously worked for Sanders. In 2016, she worked as a page to the Arizona delegation at the Democratic National Convention and in Latino outreach for Sanders’ 2016 campaign. The appointment is also indicative of Sanders pro-DACA platform that has become one of his notable campaign rallying cries. Sisa

Sisa has been a vocal and visual activist for undocumented and DACA people like herself.

Credit:Belen Sisa/Facebook

The 25-year-old gained national attention in 2017 when a photo of her paying taxes in an effort to counter stereotypes of immigrants went viral. Sisa tried reminding people that many undocumented immigrants are not just taking from the country, but making noticeable contributions.

At the time she wrote on Facebook about her experience and the importance of immigrants in the country.

“So here I go again.. #2017 tax forms in hand: MYTH BUSTER: I, an undocumented immigrant, just filed my federal and state taxes in the state of Arizona. In fact, I pay sales tax and every other kind of tax you can think of. I cannot receive financial aid from the state or federal government for school, I cannot benefit from unemployment, a reduced healthcare plan, or a retirement fund. I think I’m a pretty good citizen. Oh and there are MILLIONS just like me who pay into a system they will never receive anything from. Wanna tell me again how I should be deported, contribute nothing and only leech off this country while the 1% wealthiest people in this country steal from you everyday? How about you show me yours President Donald J. Trump? #HereToStay. #UndocumentedUnafraid.”

It’s unclear what will happen when Sisa’s DACA status expires by the end of this year.

While her current role is clear, it’s important to note that Sisa’s DACA status will be expiring this year. That might cause some unwanted attention for the Sanders campaign and Sisa herself.

But if it’s any indication of Sisa, she has shown she is not afraid to voice her views and stand up for what she believes in. All that matters for her right now is being in a position she and previous generations had to fight for her to be in.

“I can’t help but think of the generations of sacrifice my family has had to do for me to get here,” Sisa said in her announcement post. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think I’d be making moves like these.”

READ: Here’s What ICE Is Saying About The Arrest Of 23-Year-Old Mexican DACA Recipient

Julián Castro Is Promising To Confront The Growing Housing Crisis In The US With An Ambitious Housing Plan

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Julián Castro Is Promising To Confront The Growing Housing Crisis In The US With An Ambitious Housing Plan

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Presidential hopeful Julián Castro has just unveiled a plan that will address housing discrimination, homelessness and increase homeownership. The plan, part of his “People First” policy, is an area that Castro is quite familiar with as he served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Obama. He is now using some of that experience to push forward with a plan to tackle increasingly difficult housing issues in the U.S.

Castro wants to expand housing assistance programs for the poor and give renters a tax credit.

Credit: @NBCLatino/Twitter

In unveiling the first installment of his three-part housing plan, Castro voiced the concerns that many renters and potential home buyers are feeling across the country. As home and rent prices have risen to historic numbers, many are a bad bounce or missed paycheck from living on the streets.

His housing proposal focuses on expanding federally funded vouchers to help at-risk Americans pay their rent, creating a refundable tax credit for Americans whose rent exceeds 30 percent of their income and bolster the supply of affordable housing units.

“People are experiencing an affordable housing crisis, whether they live in a red or blue community, whether they are white or black. This rental affordability touches the lives of so many,” Castro said.

Castro’s plan includes improving Section 8, a housing assistance program, which subsidizes the housing of almost 5.3 million Americans in low-income households. The program is currently only helping 25 percent of eligible families. Castro wants to expand that number and transform the program to “a fully-funded entitlement program” similar to food stamps or Social Security.

A person making the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) is unable to afford a two-bedroom rental in any state. Castro wants to change this.

Credit: @kylegriffin/Twitter

Housing affordability is an issue that Castro has heard time and time again on the campaign trail. He wants to change this by increasing the number of affordable housing units. This will include putting money towards the construction of additional public housing and through the expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Another issue he wants to address is reducing America’s homelessness epidemic. Castro says he will create new government housing targets, increase assistance grants and invest in a variety of programs designed to help individuals who are homeless or at risk. His plan would also decriminalize homelessness and put an end to laws that discriminate against those without homes.

“Those experiencing homelessness are our most vulnerable citizens. They are single adults, veterans, families with young children, and kids on their own,” Castro said. “I know that when the public sector invests effort and money into ending homelessness — as we did during the Obama administration — we make a difference.”

According to HUD’s 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, there were about 553,000 people experiencing homelessness every night in 2018. Castro predicts that his new initiative would end homelessness for veterans and children by the end of 2024 and put a stop to chronic homelessness by the end of 2028.

Castro has also included plans for environmentally sustainable housing.

Credit:@fairweatherphd

Castro’s second part of his plan describes investing in “climate-driven” initiatives as part of an effort to achieve net-zero global greenhouse emissions by 2050 and “meet the promise of the Green New Deal.” The Green New Deal, which was introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is a plan that calls to make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2030.

Castro’s environmental plan would establish a $200 billion Green Infrastructure Fund that would fund local and national natural energy projects. This includes increasing and steadily improving public transportation, make buildings more energy efficient, and add more public electric vehicle charging stations.

While many support the plan or ones similar to Castro’s, it begs the question of how will this all be paid for?

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According to his campaign, Castro’s housing initiatives would cost at least $970 billion over the span of 10 years, which includes $410 billion to expand the rent voucher program. While Castro’s plans for solving the U.S. housing crisis are definitely lofty, research and numbers show that the situation is only getting worse.

“I’m committed to working toward prosperity for every single American no matter their background,” Castro told NBC News. “The fact is in our nation’s history, poverty and racism have been so intertwined that we need to address both at the same time.”

READ: Julian Castro Is Running For President On A Platform Of Giving A Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million People

After Denying It, HUD Declares Federal Housing Administration Is No Longer Helping DACA Recipients With Housing Loans

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After Denying It, HUD Declares Federal Housing Administration Is No Longer Helping DACA Recipients With Housing Loans

In a blow to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says young undocumented immigrants will be ineligible for federally backed housing loans. The news comes after months of confusion about the policy for immigrants who were brought here as children. Back in April, Secretary of HUD, Ben Carson denied this at a congressional testimony but a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official said last week DACA recipients are indeed not eligible for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are intended to make homeownership more attainable for those with lower credit scores and incomes.

Credit:@hispaniccaucus/Twitter

“Because DACA does not confer lawful status, DACA recipients remain ineligible for FHA loans,” Len Wolfson, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official, wrote in a letter to California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar last Tuesday. “Determination of citizenship and immigration status is not the responsibility of HUD, and the Department relies on other government agencies for this information.”

The latest declaration is a reversal from HUD’s previous statements to questions about whether FHA is backing mortgages for DACA recipients. The Trump administration has been trying to rescind the Obama era policy but has been blocked by a federal judge from doing so.

“I’m sure we have plenty of DACA recipients who have FHA mortgages,” Carson said at a congressional hearing in April. “I would simply say that I have instructed everyone to follow the laws of the United States with regard to DACA, with regard to anyone who is an immigrant or a potential immigrant to this country, and as long as you continue to follow the laws you will have my approval.

In the letter, Wolfson put the blame on the Obama administration for the policy and its regulations. He references former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s letter from 2012 that DACA “confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship” for recipients.

Even after Carson said that “plenty of DACA recipients” were receiving FHA-backed loans, lenders were being told to do the exact opposite.

Credit:@buzzfeednews/Twitter

According to Buzzfeed News, After Carson denied the notion that DACA recipients weren’t being approved for FHA loans, many reported that they were still being denied help.

“The explanation we received from HUD is inconsistent with the realities on the ground and statements made by Secretary Carson to members of the Appropriations Committee, and it does nothing to clarify the confusion created by the agency’s inconsistent policies,” Aguilar said in a statement to BuzzFeed News last Thursday.

The FHA has never stated that receiving a loan means requiring citizenship or lawful status.

Credit:@senjackyrosen

DACA recipients had previously never faced problems when applying for federally-backed housing assistance. FHA has also never had a clear policy that pertains to DACA recipients. According to the FHA’s single-family housing handbook, a housing guide the agency refers lenders to, notes that an Employment Authorization Document, which DACA recipients possess, is necessary “to substantiate work status” for noncitizens and qualifies them for such loans.

Under the Obama administration, HUD was supporting DACA borrowers under these circumstances. Yet the Trump administration has clearly enforced these guidelines differently.

“We know that DACA recipients have received these loans in the past, and it’s shameful that HUD is allowing the president’s anti-immigrant agenda to dictate housing policy,” Aguilar told Buzzfeed News.

This news comes out as the House Financial Services Committee last Wednesday passed a bill, Homeownership for DREAMers Act, that guarantees DACA recipients have the right to obtain federally backed mortgages.

This means recipients also can not be denied based on their immigration status. The bill is set to go to the House floor for approval, but many believe it’s unlikely the bill will pass the Republican-held Senate or be signed into law by the president.

READ: With Democrats Now In Charge Of The House, What Does That Mean For DACA Moving Forward?

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