Winning Enhanced Library Cards for Harris County

An ID for the people, by the people

It’s official. After months of organizing with Houston Leads partners, Harris County will now offer residents new enhanced library cards! TOP and allies held a press conference Tuesday, April 5, 2022 celebrating the launch of this new enhanced library card program. Not having a form of photo ID presents challenges for vulnerable communities across Harris County, especially for those who are experiencing homelessness, the formerly incarcerated, domestic abuse survivors who have lost their documentation, and those without the ability to access a state ID.

This is a TOP home-grown campaign win, started by TOP immigration justice campaign members who identified this ID as an opportunity to fill a community need.

The enhanced library cards will include a photo, name, date of birth, and address for the recipient, providing Harris County residents who lack access to a form of identification with a basic form of alternative, non-traditional photo ID. Learn more about the new cards here.

Notable news coverage:

Houston Chronicle: Advocates tout ‘enhanced’ Harris County library cards, urge authorities to accept them as ID

ABC 13: Enhanced library cards designed to help Harris County residents with no photo ID

For more information about this campaign win and TOP’s immigration justice campaign efforts in Harris County, email Damaris Gonzalez at dgonzalez@organizetexas.org

TOP PAC Advances Bold, Progressive Vision for Texas in 2022 Primary

TOP PAC Reached Over 260,000 TX Voters 

The following statement is from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in response to the group’s efforts in the 2022 Texas Democratic Primary:

“At the end of 2021, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) PAC launched an intensive candidate screening process aimed at endorsing primary candidates who are unapologetic in their commitment to justice and transforming our state into one where Black and Latino Texans can thrive. The result was a slate of 22 endorsed leaders ready to champion progressive policies to uplift our communities.

“Over the past four weeks, our get-out-the-vote program outreached through canvassing, texting, phone-banking, and mailers to over 260,000 Texans, not only about our endorsed candidates, but on issues that impact their daily lives.

“Connecting these issues to the ballot box, and subsequently the elected officeholders who address these issues, is where our voter engagement work proves to be vital. It’s an essential part of our goal to bring to life a true Texas for all.” 

Ray Brackens, Harris County TOP board member, added:

“We know there is no pathway to build progressive power in our state — to truly make a Texas that works for everyone — without meaningful and sustained voter engagement in Black and Latino communities.”

“Each and every election cycle, we are building the progressive infrastructure we need in our communities to connect with these voters and organize around their issues. This is how we shift the political landscape in our state, and how we put more power into the hands of Black and Latino Texans.”

TOP PAC congratulates the following endorsed candidates in advancing or winning their Democratic primary races, as of this afternoon:

  • Jessica Cisneros (Congress, TX-28)
  • Jasmine Crockett (Congress, TX-30)
  • Greg Casar (Congress, TX-35)
  • Lina Hidalgo (Harris County Judge)
  • Adrian Garcia (Harris County Commissioner, Pct. 2)
  • Ben Chou (Harris County Commissioner, Pct. 4)
  • Ron Reynolds (Texas House, Dist. 27)
  • Alma Allen (Texas House, Dist. 131)
  • Jon Rosenthal (Texas House, Dist. 135)
  • Jason Luong (District Judge, 185th Judicial Dist.)
  • Steve Duble (Harris County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 1, Pl. 2)
  • Melissa Saenz (Bexar County Court #2)
  • Andrea Arevalos (Bexar County Court #5)
  • Melanie Lira (Bexar County Court #7)

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Texas Organizing Project PAC runs the largest, independent Get-out-the-Vote political field programs in Texas, focusing on expanding the electorate of color, with an emphasis on turning out Black and Latino voters. To date, TOP PAC has mobilized hundreds of thousands of voters across the state with the aim of building a reflective democracy–one that looks like us and shares our values.

This statement was sent out March 2, 2022.

TOP: “President Biden must now follow through on his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court”

The following statement is from Brianna Brown, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in reaction to news yesterday that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will soon retire:

“We applaud Justice Breyer’s decision to retire after dutifully serving on our nation’s highest court for nearly 30 years. President Biden must now follow through on his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. 

“With no shortage of highly-qualified and principled women to choose from, this nominee must recognize the urgency of the moment to protect our democracy as well as the fundamental rights of all who call this country home.

“We expect nothing less than a swift and professional confirmation process from Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats. Failure is not an option. It is far past time that a Black woman be seated behind the Supreme Court dais.

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This statement was sent out January 27, 2022.

TOP PAC Endorses Jessica Cisneros (TX-28) For Congress

Cisneros has proven herself a fighter for Black and Latino Texans

Texas Organizing Project (TOP) PAC is proud to announce the endorsement of Jessica Cisneros in Texas Congressional District 28. A product of South Texas, Cisneros is a fierce believer in the power of community, and as an immigration and human rights attorney, she has shown her commitment to fighting for and improving outcomes for working-class families like her own. 

Her campaign is rooted in progressive values ― the belief that all who call this country home should have access to quality health care, good-paying jobs, decent affordable housing, thriving schools, a clean environment, and economic opportunity. She understands the drivers of injustice in our nation, and is equipped with the knowledge and conviction to deliver meaningful change in CD-28.

“Electing Jessica is about making clear that our communities deserve better, that we deserve forward-thinking leadership that centers working-class Black and Latino Texans who historically have had their needs neglected by lawmakers across our state,” said Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of TOP. “Jessica is the candidate in this race who will exhibit this leadership and proudly advocate for her constituents – not for big corporations and special interests.”

Cisneros is challenging Congressman Henry Cuellar, a politician who has raked in donations from corporate PACs, private detention facilities, and the NRA since he took office in 2005. On Wednesday, the FBI conducted a court-authorized search of Cuellar’s Laredo home.

“It’s time CD-28 had a real fighter for the people representing it, not a power-hungry politician who upholds the status quo,” said Dr. Doshie Piper, a TOP board member in San Antonio. “Henry Cuellar doesn’t stand for progress, he stands for more of the same. Jessica Cisneros is a leader who will listen to and be a bold champion for our underserved communities, and TOP is proud to support her.”

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Texas Organizing Project PAC runs the largest, independent Get-out-the-Vote political field programs in Texas, focusing on expanding the electorate of color, with an emphasis on turning out Black and Latino voters. To date, TOP PAC has mobilized hundreds of thousands of voters across the state with the aim of building a reflective democracy–one that looks like us and shares our values.

This press release was sent out January 21, 2022.

TOP: “Honoring the legacy of Dr. King means enshrining the expansion of voting rights”

The following statement is from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year:

“Today, we echo the piercing and principled words of the King family, “No celebration without legislation.”

“Honoring the legacy of Dr. King means enshrining the expansion of voting rights he and other civil rights leaders so courageously championed and put their lives on the line for.

“At a time when access to the ballot box, a cornerstone of our nation’s democracy, is being systematically attacked by right-wing politicians, the need for our Democratic-controlled Senate to bypass the archaic filibuster to codify voting rights protections has never been greater. 

“Surrender from Senate Democrats on this issue would be a slap in the face to the millions of Black and Latino voters across the country whose rights are being threatened, as well as an insult to the memory of Dr. King himself.”

TOP board member Ray Brackens of Houston added:

“Throughout the day today, our social media feeds will be flooded with quotes from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – a share disgustingly coming from the same Republican leaders who support and have passed discriminatory voting restrictions. 

“Just as we are sick and tired of these officials whitewashing the words of a justice-fighting icon, we are fed up with congressional inaction on comprehensive voting rights legislation.

“Each day that passes that Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema prioritize preserving old legislative procedure over protecting the fundamental right to vote is a win for far-right extremists and a slight to what Dr. King selflessly fought for.

“Enough with the stalling and lip service. Democrats must deliver on voting rights now by passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This statement was sent out January 17, 2022.

TOP statement on impending Senate filibuster reform deadline

With one week until Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s deadline to pass filibuster reform for voting rights, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) Co-Executive Director Michelle Tremillo released the following statement: 

“Senate Democrats next week have the power and responsibility to protect voting rights – to counter voting restrictions shamelessly put in place by right-wing politicians across the country to dilute the electoral strength of Black and Latino voters. Millions of Americans are counting on Senate Majority Leader Schumer and his caucus to deliver a meaningful breakthrough in the fight to preserve our fundamental right to vote. 

“Last year, Texas House Democrats righteously used parliamentary procedures to their advantage to prevent Governor Abbott’s voter suppression bill from becoming law – even travelling to Washington to urge Congress to take action – but their efforts were not enough to stop the discriminatory legislation from being enacted. It is now up to our federal leaders to step up and prevent further erosion of access to the ballot box.

“It is critical Senate Democrats stick to the January 17 deadline that the Senate Majority Leader has set. As we have seen in Texas and across the country, as more and more restrictions are placed on who can vote and how, time is running out. We need strong protections for voting rights, and we need them now. No more delays.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This statement was sent out January 10, 2022.

TOP statement on one-year mark of white supremacist insurrection at U.S. Capitol

The following statement is from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in response to the one-year mark of white supremacist supporters of former President Trump storming the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to subvert the results of a national election:

“A year ago today, millions across the world watched in disbelief as a deadly insurrection transpired on the grounds and in the halls of our nation’s Capitol.

“No matter how much Republicans try to downplay what took place, the facts are indisputable: former President Donald Trump on January 6 of last year incited a white nationalist attack on Congress as he and his allies sought to reverse the will of voters and dismantle democracy itself in our country.

“Unless all involved in this attempted far-right overthrow of our government are held accountable for their heinous acts, this will undoubtedly happen again. The need for House and Senate Democrats to enshrine voting rights and prevent the sabotaging of our democratic processes has never been greater. Free and fair elections in our country will cease as we know it if no legislation is passed protecting them.”

Tearyne Almendariz, a TOP board member, added:

“For weeks after the 2020 general election, Trump and his enablers peddled racist lies scapegoating Black and Latino voters, spreading completely unfounded claims of voter fraud in communities of color, laying the groundwork for this direct assault.

“It is disgusting, though in no way surprising, to see right-wing media and politicians minimize the sinister display of white supremacy we witnessed.

“The mounting evidence of preparation and coordination of this attack only underscores the urgency for our elected leaders in Washington to do everything in their power to stop this demagoguery from silencing the voices and threatening the lives of people of color across the country. This includes passing the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in full without any further delay.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This statement was sent out January 6, 2022.

TOP PAC Endorses Lee Merritt for TX Attorney General

Champion for Racial Justice & Civil Rights, Merritt Will Bring Transformational Change to Black & Latino Communities  

Today, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) PAC is proud to announce the endorsement of Lee Merritt for Attorney General. Merritt, “The People’s Lawyer,” has centered his career around being a social justice torch-bearer, carrying on the legacy of the Civil Rights movement, both inside and outside the courtroom. He’s dedicated his career to fighting for justice on behalf of Black Americans killed by police, including Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Jordan Edwards, and George Floyd, as well as victims of corruption, corporate discrimination, and hate crimes. If elected, Merritt would bring this commitment to racial justice and civil rights to the office of the attorney general.

Far-right Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has proven himself unfit for leadership time and time again. During his tenure, Paxton has abused the power of his office, using his role to service wealthy donors and a radical right-wing agenda. A Trump acolyte, who participated in the January 6th insurrection, Paxton has been under indictment for securities fraud for the last six years. Paxton has failed Texas. We believe with the right leader at the helm, the attorney general’s office could be a source of real meaningful change, particularly for communities of color who for so long have been failed by our state’s justice system. 

“This race represents a historic opportunity to elect a person from our social justice movement and the first statewide progressive Black candidate in Texas,” said Brianna Brown, TOP Co-Executive Director. “Electing Lee Merrit would lead to transformational change, particularly for Black and Latino communities. Texas needs a massive overhaul of its justice system and of the attorney general’s office, which has been corrupted by the right-wing for decades.”

“Last cycle, TOP PAC engaged 1.4 million infrequent and new voters of color. We also launched the only progressive door knocking canvass operation in the state. Our program turned out over 544,000 unlikely voters of color through early vote,” said Eric Mata, TOP President of the Board of Directors. “We intend to bring this same energy and do even greater amounts of outreach for the upcoming 2022 cycle at the statewide level. We’re fired up and ready to elect Lee Merritt the next attorney general of Texas.”

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Texas Organizing Project PAC runs the largest, independent Get-out-the-Vote political field programs in Texas, focusing on expanding the electorate of color, with an emphasis on turning out Black and Latino voters. To date, TOP PAC has mobilized hundreds of thousands of voters across the state with the aim of building a reflective democracy–one that looks like us and shares our values.

This press release was sent out December 17, 2021.

TOP statement on DOJ suing Texas over redistricting

The following statement is from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in response to the U.S. Department of Justice today announcing the filing of a lawsuit against the State of Texas over redistricting maps approved by the state legislature earlier this year:

“We thank the U.S. Department of Justice for suing against Texas Republicans’ discriminatory redistricting efforts that aim to shut Black, Latino, and Asian voters out of the political process for years to come.

“Governor Abbott and the Texas GOP purposely drew redistricting maps this past special session that weakened the voting power of our state’s growing communities of color, and they did so to cling to statewide political control. This already shameless partisan power grab is even more egregious when you factor in that 95% of the growth in Texas over the past decade has come from people of color.

“Lawsuits alone will not stop Texas Republicans’ extreme gerrymandering and overall assault on our voting rights. That’s why we once more demand our Democratic-controlled House, Senate, and White House to abandon the filibuster and put the future wellbeing of our democracy first by swiftly passing the For The People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

“Each day that passes without this legislation in place is a win for Abbott’s radical right-wing agenda, and a loss for fair representation in our state for Black and Latino Texans.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This statement was sent out December 6, 2021.

TOP statement on DOJ suing Texas over redistricting

The following statement is from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in response to the U.S. Department of Justice today announcing the filing of a lawsuit against the State of Texas over redistricting maps approved by the state legislature earlier this year:

“We thank the U.S. Department of Justice for suing against Texas Republicans’ discriminatory redistricting efforts that aim to shut Black, Latino, and Asian voters out of the political process for years to come.

“Governor Abbott and the Texas GOP purposely drew redistricting maps this past special session that weakened the voting power of our state’s growing communities of color, and they did so to cling to statewide political control. This already shameless partisan power grab is even more egregious when you factor in that 95% of the growth in Texas over the past decade has come from people of color.

“Lawsuits alone will not stop Texas Republicans’ extreme gerrymandering and overall assault on our voting rights. That’s why we once more demand our Democratic-controlled House, Senate, and White House to abandon the filibuster and put the future wellbeing of our democracy first by swiftly passing the For The People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

“Each day that passes without this legislation in place is a win for Abbott’s radical right-wing agenda, and a loss for fair representation in our state for Black and Latino Texans.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This statement was sent out December 6, 2021.