TOP Implores GOP Harris Co. Commissioners Cagle & Ramsey: Put People Over Politics, Pass A Tax Rate

The two Republican Harris County Commissioners, Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, have refused to attend county meetings for over a month. Under current Texas law, county governments require a super quorum of four members present in order to vote on tax or budget issues, effectively giving any two members a veto if they choose not to show up. 

This political stunt has severe consequences for Harris County residents that affect everything from accessing healthcare in a timely manner, protecting their homes from severe weather (such as floods), providing access to libraries, and keeping outdoor spaces clean and safe for all. 

The following is a statement from Michelle Tremillo, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) Co-Executive Director, calling on Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey to do their jobs:

Enough is enough, Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey. Stop the political games with Harris County residents’ lives, and show up to commissioner’s court tomorrow and do your job. Your absence and refusal to pass a tax rate is putting all county programs and services at risk of insufficient funding for people who are already struggling with higher prices. Tuesday’s meeting is Harris County’s last chance to pass a tax rate before reverting to an austere budget. We’re calling on Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey to step up and work to help improve our community, not make it suffer over partisanship.” 

Mattie Jackson, TOP Harris County Community Leader, echoed Tremillo’s calls for action: 

“Harris County residents, myself included, deserve officials who show up to work and do the job they were elected to do. It is unconscionable that our literal health – including potential delays in lifesaving screenings like colonoscopies and other screenings – is being put on the line by partisan games. Commissioners Cage and Ramsey, show up and pass a tax rate – now.”

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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 October 24, 2022.

Texas Organizing Project Condemns Voter Suppression Proven by New Study Findings

The following is a statement from Michelle Tremillo, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), on a study released this week showing the alarming impact that Texas voter restriction laws are having on people trying to vote by mail this election:

“Texas Republicans’ new laws restricting voting by mail in our state are nothing more than the brazen disenfranchisement of communities of color, with voters of color being 50 percent more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected.

“A new study from the Brennan Center states that while the ballot/application rejection rate for Black voters was at 17 percent, and Latino voters at 16 percent, the rejection rate for white voters was less than 12 percent. For ballots only, Latino voters were rejected at nearly 15 percent, and Black voters at almost 14 percent; in contrast, the ballot rejection rate for white voters was a mere 9 percent.

“These disparities aren’t coincidental; this is clear-cut voter suppression. The far-right knows they can only win elections when they suppress our vote, and TOP is as committed as ever to mobilizing Black and Latino voters to make our voices heard at the ballot box each and every election cycle. ” 

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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 October 21, 2022.

TOP statement on DACA court ruling

The following statement is from Jessica Azua, Immigration Justice Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in response to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today issuing a ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, sending the case back to a lower court.

“Since DACA’s inception a decade ago, far-right politicians have launched attack after attack against not just the program, but the basic humanity of recipients themselves.

Texas has the second-largest population of people in the DACA program in the U.S., but all Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are focused on is villainizing migrant families any chance they get instead of working on policy solutions to uplift immigrant communities. Abbott and Paxton are leading this charge because in the eyes of today’s GOP, the cruelty is the point. Texas Organizing Project will never back down and allow extremists to strip Dreamers of their humanity and right to thrive in this country we call home.

“The fact that Republicans are applauding this partisan court ruling that keeps the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people in jeopardy tells you all you need to know about their malicious intent with their lawsuit.

“This court ruling only makes clearer the urgent need for members of Congress to act to pass a permanent legislative solution that will allow their constituents to fully contribute to our country and live free without the threat of deportation.”

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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 October 5, 2022.

TOP statement in recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

The following is a statement from Brianna Brown, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), on the organization’s observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year:

“With immeasurable resilience in the face of centuries of violence and broken promises, Tribal Nations have fought to preserve their sovereign rights while also making countless contributions to shape and strengthen the United States.

“As we recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we must acknowledge years of atrocities at the hands of white supremacy, while committing to one another to build a new future of promise where liberation for all Indigenous communities is fully realized.

“TOP organizes and builds solidarity across communities of color to dismantle the systemic racism that for far too has held back Black, Latino, and Indigenous Americans. The disparities that still exist for Indigenous people in areas such healthcare access, public education, affordable housing, and economic opportunity are a direct result of the destructive legacy of colonization.

“Our work as organizers is to tear down this genocidal legacy, build people-driven power from the ground up, and enact bold transformative societal change that allows all people to thrive. THIS is racial and economic justice in action, and it guides our work, day in and day out.”

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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 October 10, 2022.

TOP statement on President Biden’s steps toward marijuana reform

The following statement is from David Villalobos, Statewide Right2Justice Coordinator of the Texas Organizing Project, in response to President Joe Biden announcing steps his administration will take to pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession and urge governors to pardon simple state possession offenses.

“The positive change that President Biden’s actions will have on the lives of thousands of Americans cannot be overstated.

“His announcement marks a significant step in the right direction toward the marijuana reform that a clear majority in our country support. Already, twenty states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for nonmedical use.

“It also signals a further shift away from failed and discriminatory War on Drugs policies that for decades have targeted Black and Latino communities – tearing apart families, devastating neigborhoods, and contributing to our nation’s astronomical incarceration rate.”

Mattie Jackson, a TOP Right2Justice campaign member in Houston added:

Black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana charges than their white peers, yet both consume marijuana at roughly the same rates, underscoring how reforming our nation’s laws on marijuana IS about racial and economic justice.

“These bold steps from President Biden are absolutely welcome and must be expanded on. Countless promising lives have been shattered by our unjust marijuana policies rooted in racism.

“Will Greg Abbott now act on President Biden’s call for governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses? Knowing our radical, out-of-touch governor, we’re not holding our breath. Of course he won’t.”

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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.

Texas Organizing Project PAC & Florida Rising Condemn Abbott & DeSantis’ Blatant Racism & Exploitation of Migrants

Today, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) PAC and Florida Rising are jointly condemning the disgusting action taken by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ to cruelly fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis’ follows Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s lead of busing migrants to Washington D.C. earlier this year. By lying and deceiving vulnerable individuals and asylum-seekers who have the right to be in this country, both men have confirmed how shameless their radical, dehumanizing politics are when it comes to caring about the wellbeing of people in need of humanitarian aid. Not only are their actions inhumane, they are also potentially illegal, and the Bexar County Sheriff has opened a criminal investigation into the move to trick migrants into flying to Massachusetts.

TOP and Florida Rising are committed to removing these shameless Republicans from office in November, and we are engaging hundreds of thousands of voters in Florida and in Texas to reach that goal. These inhumane acts also echo back to “Reverse Freedom Rides,” during the 1960s when Southern segregationists sent Black Americans to northern states in an attempt engineered to expose liberals’ alleged hypocrisy. The Reverse Freedom Rides have largely been left out of our country’s historical narrative. Many of these individuals currently affected by these horrifying PR stunts, like the Black families 60 years ago, have traveled on the false pretenses of receiving jobs and housing. 

TOP Co-Executive Director Michelle Tremillo, released the following statement: “Abbott’s plot to deceitfully transport migrants reveals what TOP members have known for some time—our GOP governor couldn’t care less about the rights, health, and wellbeing of migrants and their families. Instead of working toward real policy solutions on behalf of Texans and migrants, Republicans would rather exploit and play politics with real human lives. Now, more than ever, the need for change and leadership in Texas, as in Florida, is clear, and we at TOP are fighting to engage Black and Latino communities who will help us build a better state.

Florida Rising’s Executive Director Andrea Mercado echoed the outrage: “Governors DeSantis and Abbott are on full display of their endless hypocrisy but, mostly, cruelty. In an electoral cycle, they take advantage of the pain of those who fled authoritarian regimes, adding insult to injury as an evil electoral tactic. These Republican leaders are using asylum seekers to play an outrageous political game. Their lack of compassion is abysmal, but even worse, their disrespect, time and again, for the Hispanic community once again affirms that racism and xenophobia are the GOP’s marching orders. But our communities’ marching orders are clear– voting out DeSantis and Abbott on November 8th.” 

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Texas Organizing Project (TOP) 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. For more information, visit toppac.org.

Florida Rising (FR) is an independent political organization working to increase the voting and political power of historically marginalized and excluded constituencies toward an inclusive, equitable, and just Florida. For more information, visit floridarising.org

This joint statement was sent out September 21, 2022.

TOP supports San Antonio City Council’s budget proposal for increased apartment code enforcement

The following statement is from Sylvia Flores, a Texas Organizing Project (TOP) member in San Antonio and tenant of Seven Oaks Apartments, in response to San Antonio City Council including a proposal to create a code enforcement apartment inspection team in the city’s budget being passed today:

“The hard work and on-the-ground organizing of San Antonio tenants is the reason why an increase in apartment code enforcement is even being discussed today in the first place.

“As a current resident of Seven Oaks Apartments, a complex that has had multiple code violations in the last few months alone, this call for more code enforcement officers to work on apartment property maintenance inspections is long overdue and a definite step in the right direction.

“As community groups like TOP continue to shine a light on the substandard housing conditions thousands of San Antonio tenants are currently living in, our mayor and city council need to build on today’s progress by passing long term policy solutions. This is the only way to ensure that more San Antonians have a clean, safe, and affordable place to call home, and that abusive landlords are being held accountable. Our local elected leaders can’t just call it a day on this critical issue.

“Housing is a human right, and each and every resident of our city — regardless of their age, race, gender, or economic status — deserves a sanitary and secure place to live. We need those who represent us at City Hall to work toward adopting policies that get us closer to making this a reality for all San Antonians.”

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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 press release was sent out September 15, 2022.

Texas Organizing Project celebrates Labor Day

The following is a statement from Brianna Brown, Co-Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), on the organization’s observance of Labor Day this year:

“Now celebrating our second Labor Day as a unionized workplace – the first of which with a ratified collective bargaining agreement – TOP is proud to stand on the shoulders of generations of Black and Latino labor and civil rights leaders as we continue to build toward being the most equitable and supportive workplace we can be.

“Living through this pandemic has shown us firsthand how the future prosperity of our nation hinges on workers’ rights. While corporate forces work around the clock to diminish our inherent worth and the collective power of our labor, TOP continues to be a vocal proponent with our labor allies for raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and ensuring Texans have access to the paid sick leave they deserve.

No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence, said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., words that ring as true as ever and are reflected in our organization’s values.

Eric Mata, TOP Board President, added:

“No matter our age, race, or background, all Texans deserve access to good-paying stable jobs with benefits that allow all to grow and thrive. Workers’ rights are human rights – and the recent unionization boom being seen across our country further affirms this. 

“This Labor Day, I am particularly proud to see TOP as now officially part of the labor movement in an exciting new way, and through a resurgence of organizing, I am optimistic about what the future holds for workers nationwide.”

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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 September 5, 2022.

TOP on migrant deaths: “It’s an injustice, and a searing indictment of our discriminatory immigration system”

The following statement is from Jessica Azua, Immigration Justice Director with Texas Organizing Project (TOP) in response to the death of 53 migrants found in a sweltering, abandoned semi-truck trailer Monday:

“Immense sadness and frustration do not even begin to describe how I am feeling in reaction to this tragedy. In that semi-truck trailer were fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters – all with hopes and dreams. 

“State and federal lawmakers can point fingers all they want, but the truth is this: Decades of failed, inhumane immigration policies – from Title 42 to Gov. Abbott’s Operation Lone Star – contributed to what is now being recognized as our country’s deadliest human smuggling incident on record. 

“It is these policies, classist and rooted in white supremacy, that radically restrict entry to this country, forcing migrants faced with desperation to take dangerous paths to come to the U.S., all in search of safety and a better life.

“At the absolute least, the Biden administration must grant humanitarian parole for the victims’ families, and provide survivors of this traumatizing event with T visas.

“What occurred is not just a horrifying mass death. It’s an injustice, and a searing indictment of our discriminatory immigration system.”  

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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 June 29, 2022.

Securing a Houston housing justice organizing win

ORGANIZING WIN: On June 1, 2022, TOP’s Harris County Housing Justice campaign members were pleased to see included in next year’s Houston city budget the funding for salaries for eight habitability/health inspectors in the first year of the Apartment Inspection Reform program — an initiative of Houston City Council Member Letitia Plummer (At-Large, Position 4).

TOP Houston members testified in support of this passed budget amendment which will increase accountability for landlords to provide livable housing for ALL Houston tenants.

Our Harris County Housing Justice campaign believes housing is a fundamental human right. Every Houstonian deserves to live in a home that is clean, safe, and inhabitable. We are proud that this passed budget amendment will ultimately improve housing conditions for many more Houston tenants in the coming months.

Contact Mitzi Ordoñez at mordonez@organizetexas.org to learn more about this victory and how you can get involved in our Harris County Housing Justice efforts.