In the last few years, Texas has routinely taken the lead in enacting policies against people of color. As the Latino population grows, it becomes important that they participate fully in the electoral process.
Where to start? Here at home in California.
Recently, Texas has once again made the news by enacting a policy which discriminates against its citizens of color. County registrars in Texas have stopped providing birth certificates for children born in Texas (US Citizens) to parents who can’t prove their legal status in the US.
Story courtesy of LA Times: Undocumented immigrants sue Texas over state’s denial of birth certificates for U.S.-born children
This doesn’t come as a surprise to many.
Texas is a state that takes a perverse pride in their institutional racism. People of color are jailed at disproportionate rates. People are executed, despite evidence of their innocence being easily available for review by the courts. So trying to disenfranchise US citizens by denying them their own birth certificates seems mild in comparison.
But the consequences of these actions is plainly visible and immoral. Al this in a state with a conservative base that prides itself on its Christianity. Without those birth certificates, children (US Citizens) who are in the arms of their undocumented parents, will now be illegally deported along with their parents. Once deported, these US Citizens will have no manner with which to claim their right to be in this country since they have no proof of citizenship.
We, as Americans, can not let this continue. We must all become active in getting Texas (and the handful of other states wanting to “be like Texas”) to comply with the US Constitution. The protections afforded by Fourteenth Amendment are not optional. They are the law.
So, what do we do?
First, register to vote.
We must begin organizing voter registration drives in our areas. Latinos are the majority in California. Yet we participate at lower levels by not registering or voting regularly. So if you know someone who needs to register, help them register. You can even register to vote online. Remember to select the “vote by mail” option when you complete your voter registration form (more on this below).
Second, get out and vote!
Registering to vote and then not voting is like buying an expensive car and leaving it the garage. People often talk about the privilege of voting. It really is. In many countries, the right to elect one’s leaders is not available. Many of the people reaching the US come from countries ruled by military dictatorships or corrupt governments. Often they sacrifice everything they have (some even their lives) for the just the opportunity to live in a free country like the US. And many of us take it for granted.
Many people are denied their right to vote by employers who fail to provide time off for voting. This is an illegal action that happens routinely. Because of this, many people fail to cast a ballot. It is for this reason that we urge you to select the “Vote By Mail” option when registering to vote. Your ballot is mailed to you at your home. You complete the ballot and mail it back. Your vote is in!
If you know someone who is registered to vote, but stays home on election day, step in. Remind them that by not voting they are letting someone else make decisions for them. Often, these decisions affect these non-voters in a negative manner, yet they don’t vote.
So, remind them to vote. If not for themselves, vote for the kids next door who deserve a school where all kids have the same opportunity; not just the kids from the “good part of town.” If not for themselves, vote for the Viet Nam veteran down the street who is seeing his VA benefits cut so that rich multi-national corporations can get billions of dollars in tax benefits. If not for themselves, vote for that man or woman who died in the Arizona desert dreaming of a day where she could spend just one day in a county like this.
But above all, VOTE!
Elect people who speak for You
Once we have everyone going to the polls, we need to elect representatives worthy of our votes. Seek out and encourage people who speak for you. It is vitally important that you vote for a candidate whose views you support. We all need to look past the “R” or “D” behind their name and instead focus on the content of their words. What do they believe? What are their goals? Are they the same goals as yours?
If you agree with what they’re saying, gift them your vote. Regardless of party. That’s how democracies work.
Then, speak up for Texans (and others)
California has always been on the leading edge of social change. We have always been a state that actively tries to better itself by bettering the lives of its residents. It is this attitude that makes California the land of “milk and honey” that continues to draw new residents every single year. We have it pretty good here.
So, with that in mind, it becomes important to reach out to people in states like Texas and help them do the very things we are talking about here: Register, vote, elect worthy representatives.
Once these things start happening in Texas (and states like Texas) US citizens will no longer be denied their rights based on things over which they have no control.
But we need to start somewhere. We need to start with you.