Latinos could turn their backs on Lupe Valdez in Texas
Young students in Texas have brought to light the past record of the sheriff Lupe Valdez, highlighting her previous collaboration with immigration officers.
In an unexpected setback, the Hispanic candidate for the governorship of Texas, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, has lost the support of Hispanic youth in the state after her collaboration with the Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) during her management came to light.
During a local assembly organized by the Jolt youth group - a Latino movement that aims to empower the Hispanic voter - in Austin last Saturday, Valdez and her opponent, Andrew White, again presented their proposals and answered several questions, next to the Democratic candidate to commissioner, Miguel Suazo, and Senate candidate, Beto O'Rourke, according to the Texas Observer.
It was the question of the high school student, Karla Quiñones, which disarmed the gubernatorial candidate:
"Ms. Valdez, you were the sheriff of Dallas County for many years, and it seems that your legacy was one of supporting anti-immigrant policies that actually expanded ICE enforcement," she said. "Given that, the Dallas community walked out of your forum with ICE saying that you turned your back on them; two, you complied with every ICE request for warrantless ICE detentions even when other counties like Travis County, were taking a courageous stand against them, and three, you opened the county’s facility doors to ICE and even entered a bed-renting arrangement. Why should we trust you today? Will you take a stand against unconstitutional ICE holds and jail deportation? "
In what many have considered as a unilateral strategy to use her heritage as a resource, Valdez replied: "Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can," she said. "But immigration is a federal issue and there are certain things that we have to do. Unfortunately, what she was discussing were several things that were quite misunderstood."
In a previous article, the Texas Observer detailed the sheriff's work record, undermined by "viral videos of police violence", assassinations by the armed forces, and the silent collaboration of the now-candidate.
For the media, the paradox of Valdez’s candidacy is the fact that she portraits herself as "a progressive law enforcer", in a state that has suffered so much in the hands of the police.
The same day she announced her candidacy for governor's office, the Dallas Morning News described her career as "borderline disqualifying," criticizing "her transparency-resistant tendencies, especially in regard to prisoner deaths and other violent incidents."
Despite being elected by her Latino community with the hope that she would change things - after all, she was a Democratic, female, Hispanic and openly homosexual candidate - two years after her swearing in the Justice Department investigated the prison facilities and concluded that "officials still regularly violated the rights of prisoners," the Observer continues.
But the community of young Hispanics in Texas seem to be tired of being just "a bargaining chip" when it comes to addressing the issues that must be resolved by the administration.
For Jamileth Ortega, president and founder of the student chapter of Jolt at Texas State University, “she really went around (the questions) and tried to use her background to have us empathize with her. Yes, a lot of us relate to her background but it’s not an excuse. It doesn’t make us look away from the negativity that comes with how she’s dealt with (ICE) in the past."
As the weeks pass, Valdez has lost the support of groups such as the Houston GLBT Political Caucus (one of the largest LGBT groups in the state) as well as the newspaper of her hometown, the Dallas Morning News.
The coup de grace has been given by this youth group that, according to the Observer, could be due to the fact that "it has been widely speculated that Valdez was recruited to run for governor by Democratic insiders largely as a way to drive up Hispanic voter turnout around the state.”
But Latinos will not let themselves be bought so easily.