Undocumented Immigrants to Washington, D.C.: Don’t Shut Down Immigration Reform

In an attempt to move Republican leaders in the House to reignite the immigration reform debate, thousands of immigrants in more than 140 cities marched on Saturday, demanding reform and an end to deportations. The demonstrations set the stage for a larger protest planned for tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

In Texas, thousands marched. Houston saw the biggest turnout, with organizers estimating nearly 2,000 demonstrators. Close to 1,000 people took to the streets in Dallas, according to organizers, and rallies in Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi drew hundreds. Huge demonstrations in Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles sent the same message to Washington: Immigrants are no longer afraid, but they are tired of waiting.

“The government shutdown isn’t going to shut down the issue,” says Connie Paredes, who helped organize the Dallas march with Texas Organizing Project. “The issue is still there and we’re going to continue fighting for immigration reform and for a pathway to citizenship.”

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Austin, Houston and San Antonio Lead Texas Cities in ‘Green’ Policies

Major Texas cities are challenging Texas’ rank as one of the least-green states in the union, a new report shows. The report, released by Environment Texas in San Antonio today, ranks Texas’ 10 most populous cities by environmental and energy efforts, and emphasizes the need for improvement statewide.

The cities are rated on a scale of zero to three in five categories that focus on renewable energy and efficiency. Some of the scales compare Texas cities to others in the nation. For example, a city could only score a three in utility-supported solar power if its solar production rivaled that of U.S. cities leading in solar.

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Dormitory Darlings

These days, if you mention “curfews” or “signing out” to students living in UT dorms, they’ll probably give you a funny look. They may take their freedom for granted, but it wasn’t so long ago that living situations on campus were much more buttoned-up.

Though UT was founded as a coed university in 1883—a time when many colleges in the country didn’t even admit women—the campus’ early layout reflected a prevailing attitude of the time: women were fragile beings who had to be guarded and protected, both physically and morally.

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Texans March for Immigration Reform in Austin

A steady throng of demonstrators marched down Congress Ave. to the Capitol Friday morning, carrying huge colorful banners and signs with messages like “I was born in the USA – Don’t take my mommy and daddy away!” and “End detentions now!” The demonstrators came from all over the state and represented about 30 organizations calling for “fair and just immigration reform that provides dignity and rights for all.”

Immigration reform rallies in 2006 drew massive crowds (Dallas reportedly had 500,000 demonstrators) and were predominantly staged in response to the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act pushed by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin). Though the march today was much smaller (the Austin Police Department estimates less than 1,000 people participated), the message was still clear: immigrants are coming out of the shadows and demanding that the federal government finally pass an immigration reform plan that grants them more rights.

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Workers’ Group Honors Austin-Area Officials for Supporting Living Wage

In a small celebration at the Workers Defense Project office on Tuesday, the labor advocacy group presented awards—wooden lightboxes with small hammers inside—to Austin and Travis County officials who have helped institute a living wage floor for certain workers.

After years of advocating fair compensation, labor leaders saw a victory last month when the Travis County Commissioner’s Court approved a requirement that all companies receiving county tax incentives pay workers at least $11 per hour—$3.75 more than the federal minimum wage. A special subcommittee of the Austin City Council made a similar recommendation last month. Members who voted for the wage floor were honored at Tuesday’s ceremony.

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Workers Defense Project Demands Tech Company Provide Fair Compensation, Treatment for Austin Workers

As the state offers yet another tax incentive to woo yet another tech company to Austin, Workers Defense Project is stepping in to ensure that workers building the physical shell for HID Global are treated and compensated fairly.

In light of rampant wage theft in Texas and the 2009 study that found every two and a half days a construction worker dies in Texas, Workers Defense is stepping up its efforts to protect workers on construction sites through the Premier Community Builders program.

Workers Defense Project is demanding that Austin City Council add three conditions to their contract with HID Global before approving the building of their complex in north Austin: the presence of a safety monitor on site once per pay period; a wage floor of $12 per hour; and a commitment to hiring disadvantaged Austin residents with construction certifications for 15 percent of the jobs. The city council is set to vote on the proposal when it takes up the $2.8 million incentive package on Sept. 27.

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