The swamp in Washington, D.C. can change a person. Sometimes that happens so quickly that a casual observer’s head spins. Case in point – Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a freshman Democrat congresswoman from Houston.
Once considered a rather run-of-the-mill kind of Texas Democrat, since jumping feet first into the swamp Garcia has gone to the far left side of hot button issues. Now she has placed herself in the middle of a story about an illegal alien’s deportation order and is promoting her agreement with the open borders crowd – just abolish ICE.
Rep. Garcia is no wide-eyed young idealist like Sandy from the Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s a woman of a certain age, shall we say, and a lawyer, a former municipal judge, the first woman, and the first Latina to serve on Harris County Commissioner’s Court, and a Texas State Senator. In other words, she’s not a rookie in the political world. After noticing how frequently Garcia is positioned favorably for camera exposure during the press conferences with her party’s leaders on television, many of us in Houston pondered how she managed that. Granted, Texas is now considered a blossoming battleground state, but still.
It’s becoming clear that Rep. Garcia is using the method of choice for political opportunists – identity politics. In the Texas State Senate, she did vote against sanctuary city legislation and additional funding for border security. She stated a popular opinion among the open borders crowd – that she doesn’t want local law enforcement to become ICE agents. All of these positions were standard for Democrats at the time. Now, however, at the federal level of politics, she’s moved further to the left.
A Guatemalan illegal alien was taken into custody by immigration agents on September 5 as he was driving to work. You already see where the narrative is going, right? He’s just a hard-working man… Roland Gramajo isn’t just any illegal alien living in Houston, though. He’s a business owner, a political activist, a community organizer, and a married father of five. His wife is a legal permanent resident originally from Peru. His children are American citizens. In May 2018, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, at the request of a City Councilman, honored Gramajo with a proclamation.
Last May, District F Council Member Steve Le asked the mayor to name May 17 in honor of Gramajo. The proclamation praised him for being an “extremely positive role model,” including working with the city to improve the Alief and Sharpstown areas.
“He spends countless hours working on community projects motivating the community through scholarships,” it said. “His selfless volunteer efforts inspire the community to become future humble, honest and protective leaders of this great city.”
Gramajo, as it turns out, has been living in Houston since first coming here in 1994 with his mother from Guatemala. He attended public high school and was arrested for his part in a “prank” – he and some friends took a friend’s car without his knowledge and when it was reported as stolen, he was charged with burglary of a vehicle — a class A misdemeanor. Gramajo was sentenced to 60 days in jail, although he served less. This flagged him for immigration officials. In 1998 (the Clinton era) he was ordered to be deported. His appeal was denied in 2001 (the G.W. Bush era) and he was deported in 2004 after he was stopped for a traffic violation.
In 2004, he and his wife had two children. A few months after deportation, Gramajo again entered the country and border patrol agents didn’t stop him. Gramajo picked his life back up. He opened a business as a notary, paralegal, and community advocate. Let that sink in – he was working within the legal community. He often worked for a local attorney, according to his wife, and was working for him in a downtown courthouse just last week. He clearly wasn’t one who is a part of those who live in fear in the shadows. He was living the American Dream, illegally.
Gramajo’s current trouble was of his own making, frankly. He was asked to organize a community forum to calm the fears of those concerned about possible immigration law enforcement actions. The bad Orange Man has frightened illegal aliens, you see. Nonetheless, Gramajo reached out and invited immigration officials by email but they declined to come. During the forum, Rep. Garcia stirred the pot by noticing three “suspicious-looking” men in attendance. She alerted another community organizer present who asked staffers to check the situation out.
The men said they were looking at the architecture of the room and eventually left, Garcia’s spokesman Robert Julien said.
“We can’t speculate as to who they were or what they were doing,” he said.
ICE officials said none of its agents attended in any official capacity.
Gramajo’s wife said her husband recently told her someone had threatened to call immigration officials about his status, although she did not know details.
“We believe in this case, particularly, that he was targeted by immigration and he was being followed,” Espinosa told reporters at the Thursday press conference.
Yes, looking at architecture was a lame explanation present by the men. However, it was Garcia who played a part in this story. She amplified Gramajo’s exposure. He’s currently being detained in a federal detention facility in Conroe.
Gramajo is now in a federal detention facility in Conroe and faces not only immediate deportation but a 20-year bar from returning to the United States. He will only be able to petition the U.S. government to waive that bar after spending 10 years outside of the country.
His lawyer, Gonzalez, is asking the government to grant Gramajo a stay of deportation for humanitarian reasons or to release him on a status known as parole.
“He’s not a risk to anybody,” the lawyer said. “This guy only has a very minor offense from when he was a kid. Exceptions have to be made, especially when so many U.S. citizens are involved. We’re talking about five kids.”
Gramajo was given a lot of time to make his legal status right. He didn’t. He put his family’s security in jeopardy by his own actions. He was deported once and the border patrol agents turned a blind eye when he returned. His immigration status was known to his community and yet the Mayor of Houston held him up as a hero. None of this is the fault of ICE. Rep. Garcia and those in her party calling for the abolition of ICE by using stories that tug at the hearts of regular Americans are the worst kinds of deceptive politicians. It’s a slap in the face to those doing their jobs securing our borders. Making an example of such a high profile offender sends a message. We can no longer sit out the debate over legal immigration and the laws that govern it.
So, yeah, Rep. Garcia, you’ve gone radical up there in the swamp.
She’s looking for a little high-profile help, too. She looks desperate to be one of the cool kids.