Archive for March, 2006

The Immigration Issue: Some Facts

Note: Houston Metroblog is a team, and as such, we each have our own opinions and thoughts. So, this article is what I think and what I feel, not necessarily what the others do.

News sources, blogs and forums all have some pretty interesting things to say about the immigration Issue. The consensus seems to be that an “underclass of outlaws” (Mexican immigrants) are hurting America through job stealing, crime, welfare free-loading and non-assimilation. And that when students rises up against these claims, they get reported on, pundited, made fun of, arrested and cited. Wow. We really know how to roll out the welcome mat don’t we.

The Houston Chronicle quoted a man saying:

“The whole thing just makes my blood boil,” said Bruce R. Wing, a 52-year-old Missouri City resident. “I want them all out of here.”

Unfortunately, this seems to be the sentiment of a lot of people lately. This that statement is not about jobs, that’s not about heath care, its not about assimilation. That sentiment is blatantly racist. Through proposed Immigration Reform, we are exposing a (not so) hidden prejudice against an entire race of people. A race that makes up more than one third of Houston.

It seems that some of the points people are making stem from a lack of understanding. So, maybe I can help explain some things…

Not all Hispanics are immigrants
Shocking, I know. But we aren’t. We have a saying: “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Like many many families here, mine has been in Texas and Louisiana for generations, long before this became America. Most of us were born and raised in this country. We contribute to the society, defend the homeland and live the American dream. As much citizens as anyone else.

Illegal Immigrants do not free load on welfare or healthcare
May I stress this point? Illegal immigrants cannot get welfare. They just can’t. You have to be a legal documented resident and go through background checks, fingerprinting, iris scanning and reference giving. There is no way that any significant portion of illegal immigrants can get through all of that. With healthcare, most immigrants are too scared to go to public hospitals out of fear of being reported. In fact, that fear makes sure they stay out of almost all government institutions or do things like call the cops for public disturbances or ambulances for emergencies.

Illegal Immigrants are a drain on the economy because they don’t pay taxes.
Really? What about sales tax? Or gas tax? Or tobacco tax or all the other taxes from buying things. They pay those taxes. And lots of it. Look at the advertising lately, have you noticed a lot more commercials, billboards and ads are geared towards the Hispanic market? That’s because the Hispanic buying power, immigrant or not, is massive. So, with all that buying, all that spending money, they’re building local economy on a huge scale.

What about property taxes, school taxes, etc? Well, they’re poor. If they were legal, they still wouldn’t own property, so they still wouldn’t pay property taxes. Does anyone complain about other low ownership areas of town? Do we need to deport Southwest Houston or Acres Homes or Pasadena because many people don’t own their own homes? No, we don’t.

America is all Immigrants
Save the Native Americans, everyone here are immigrants. Americans ancestors were immigrants. and they were accepted into this country or they founded this country or whatever, but at one point, they came here on boat or plane, with their own culture and identity, seeking a better life, more freedom and to work. Today’s Mexican immigrants come to America for exactly the same reasons everyone’s ancestors did.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Inscription on the Statue of Liberty

Culture vs. Citizenship
Yes, the kids are waving Mexican flags. Yes, they are in America. But understand that the Mexican flag represents something more / other than the country that flies it. It represents a culture, the culture of those kids. So when they brandish the flag, they’re showing support for who they are. This is just the same as going to Boston and seeing Irish flags or going to Chicago and seeing Italian flags. Its about heritage and love for your people.

America was never intended to replace heritage. It was never designed to strip culture and identity, it was supposed to be a place where we can all live in one place together but still be who we are. It is the poor soul who has lost his own culture. So, wave Mexican flags, wave Japanese flags, wave American flags, but most of all be an American yourself by loving other cultures.

To sum this up:
Remember that when people talk about Immigrants, they are talking about people. Generally good people with lives, dreams, children, wants and desires. They aren’t statistics, they aren’t an “underclass of outlaws,” they aren’t refuse. They’re people just like us who want to live and work. Immigrants want to pursue happiness and life and… hmm… that sounds familiar…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

Hace calor!

Did you know that Houston is hot – even on the coldest day of the year??? I bet you already did know that. Here’s something I didn’t know. I read the following quote on the website for the Cool Houston Project and was quite amazed:

From 1972 to 1999, the Houston region lost about 400 square miles of tree canopy or 25 acres per day, causing Houston’s urban heat islands to grow larger and hotter. Trees remove pollutants from the air.

There will be an event Thursday, May 11 at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center from 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

Pelvic Thrust Thursdays Celebrate One Year of Rocking


The Proletariat (903 Richmond Ave.) is celebrating the one-year anniversary of their completely rockingingly awesome Pelvic Thrust Thursdays with a RockBox Part-ay starting at 9pm tonight!

In town for the event is Austin’s ever-amazing DJ Mel – who I must say consistently turns out one of the most diverse and crowd-pleasing sets ever and will no doubt make tonight a really fun/eclectic time.

Other reasons to go: free pizza, free stuff, good drink specials, cool music junkies, $5 to get in.

EVENTS – Cause for Paws

Cause for Paws Radiothon
Join the all day radiothon benefiting Special Pals – win prizes, earn warm fuzzies!

(Time: 1:02)

206-202-3644 Call in your news!

EVENT – NSTA Luncheon

NSTA Luncheon – Think Global, Then Local

(Time: 1:53)

206-202-3644 Call in your news!

Guns Gone Wild (in Texas)?

I was just reading some local news over on and one particular thing I read has got me wondering about something.

The article states that Tom Delay’s concealed handgun license has been suspended due to his indictment. (Please note: I am purposefully avoiding commenting one way or the other on Delay and my opinions on guns and gun control, as I prefer to keep this focused on the question that follows.)

The part of the article that stood out to me was this:

DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty declined to say why DeLay obtained the handgun permit…

Flaherty would not say if DeLay has been carrying a handgun.

“As for whether or not he carries it. That’s the point of having a CHL in Texas, potential
criminals should assume everyone is.”

Is the thought that any citizen (over the age of 21) is very likely carrying a handgun a common one? It has never once crossed my mind, and now I’m wondering if I’m in the minority. The only time that a person carrying a gun in public has ever been obvious to me is when I’ve seen someone who feels the need to strap on a holster and wear his gun in plain view.

Do I just ignore the fact that guns are all around me when I’m out somewhere? Or is it as uncommon as I assume it is?

Do YOU carry a gun?

Can I get some service(s)?

General question to the folks in and around Houston: what web services are you using? The web has definitely taken a shift towards community based portals over the last few years, and I’ve seen some sites become really popular with other cities, but I have the nagging suspicion that Houston is under-represented. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong sites?
Put to good use:


It looks like there are about 48,000 photos on flickr tagged “Houston”. Not bad at all.

Indeed, tagging seems to work…


Also highly active: 12,000+ personals; 22,000+ for sale; ~4,000 jobs and ~6,000 services.

Sorely lacking:

Though they haven’t updated much code since Yahoo bought them, and there are still issues to overcome, is a good model of what a community events calendar could be. Sadly, hardly anyone in Houston seems to use it. Only 19 events listed for Houston. Compare to 264 events currently listed for Los Angeles or 369 events for New York, and the 4th largest city in the country is barely a blip on the radar.


Looks a little more promising–more than a thousand local events listed–but the demand queue is pathetically small. (OK, granted, that’s a new feature to the service, but we should get that thing populated and let bands, etc. know that we’d love for them to play here.)

Are there some web services I’ve overlooked? What are you using to track the goings on in the city?

Japan Fest

The Houston Japan Festival will take place Saturday, April 8th and Sunday, April 9th 2006 in the Japanese Gardens at Hermann Park. This should be a really awesome event marked with Japanese drumming demonstrations, Aikido demonstrations (disclaimer: I study at Shinkikan and might be on stage), kendama, and much more. The full schedule can be seen here, Adobe Acrobat Reader required.

Local Students Skip School to Protest

About 150 students from Eisenhower High School staged a walkout this morning in protest of an immigration bill. The bill, currently being debated in the Senate, would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally, and impose new penalties on companies who employ illegal immigrants. The students walked over eight miles to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office to protest outside waving a Mexican flag.

According to Alexis Grant of the Houston Chronicle,

Senior Jesse Quintero, 18, said he and three friends organized the rally themselves, largely using the internet and phones to contact others.

Quintero said a larger rally is planned for Tuesday in downtown.

“I challenge all Latino and hispanic-descent people to come out with us tomorrow, to miss one day of work, because that will show the city of Houston, and everyone in the nation will see how badly this (proposed immigration restriction) will affect the country.”

I go back and forth about my feelings on immigration and the previously proposed guest worker program and am very interested in any opinions on the subject that anyone is willing to share. Thoughts anyone?

Read Grant’s article in its entirety here.

UPDATE: Read about the specifics of the bill as it passed in the House here.

Could It Be?!

The excitement is mounting. Tomorrow could be a big day…

This weekend 59 North from the Shepherd exit onwards has been closed. I’m speculating that they might FINALLY be opening up the entire highway on Monday so it’s no longer two lanes. I know this has already been done on the south bound side (and made the trips home a little less stressful).

I really hope this is the case. One of my first posts on this blog was about the proposed completion date of February 2007 for the Spur 527 project. Could it be that construction has finished early for once?

Why am I so excited about construction being completed? That’s what Houston traffic does to you…

UPDATE: Looks like I was wrong – at least in my opinion. Although some lanes have opened up, these are for Spur 527. It’s made things even more confusing, with some people waiting until the last minute to move from the Spur 527 lanes to the 59 Northbound lanes. I would even say that traffic has gotten worse – at least temporarily. It will take some time for people to get used to the new lanes, but there will undoubtedly always be those individuals that wait until the last minute. Needless to say, I would stay away from 59 for a few weeks until people get used to the new lanes. Then, maybe, traffic will be better.

UPDATE #2: The Houston Chronicle also wrote about this morning’s confusion.

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