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Press Release: Representative Gene Wu Statement on the Passage of Senate Bill 4

April 27, 2017

SB4_StatementToday’s passage of Senate Bill 4 is a solution in search of a problem. This is a bill that has been crafted out of fear and hatred of immigrants. Not a single Texas city refuses to comply with voluntary ICE Detainers. Not a single Texas city can be called a “Sanctuary City.” The bill as passed, would not just detain criminals, but would target children, victims of crimes, and even immigrants who served in our armed forces. The Texas Legislature has, today, passed a Arizona-style, “Show-me-your-papers” law that will disproportionately affect communities such as those that make up District 137 — hardworking communities made up of native and non-native Texans, refugees, and immigrants both documented and undocumented.

This legislation is cruel. When it was made clear this bill would cause American citizens to be jailed and detained, the proponents of the bill shrugged it off as an unfortunate inconvenience. When Democrats offered amendments to exempt children and victims going to testify in court, those measures were repeatedly defeated on purely party lines. Democrats also asked to exempt religious-based schools who may object with deeply held beliefs; that too was defeated on partisan lines.

When I first spoke on this bill I couldn’t stop thinking about my boys. This bill and other laws like it are a constant reminder that, despite being born in this nation, they will be seen as outsiders because of the way they look; that the law will treat them with suspicion; and they will have to fight just to be treated equally. I was reminded that this is not the first time laws were passed against immigrants based on fear and hatred. And, it will not be the last.

Democrats were united in their opposition to the legislation because this felt like an attack on the diverse communities that we represent and that make Texas great. At the end of the day, all we asked for was mercy for our communities; mercy for our families; and mercy for our children. But no mercy was given.

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Representative Wu Floor Comments on Senate Bill 4

Representative Wu Closing Statements on Senate Bill 4

Press Release: Representative Gene Wu – An Advocate for Texas Immigrants

February 8, 2017

cmsimage__2017_02_08_13_54_17_706Representative Wu (D – Houston) expressed disappointment that Governor Abbott declared a so-called sanctuary city ban as one of his top priorities in last week’s State of the State Address. Today, the Texas Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) on to the Texas House. SB 4 will require Texas law enforcement agencies to collaborate with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) to investigate the immigration status of Texans. The bill’s passage follows sixteen hours of emotional testimony in the Senate State Affairs Committee by faith leaders, scholars, lawyers, judges, law enforcement officials, and advocates from all over Texas who oppose this legislation.

“We should be focusing our attention on unifying issues that strengthen and support the people who call Texas home, and not perpetuating anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies that divide us,” Wu commented. “SB 4 makes Texans less safe by undermining public safety, driving vulnerable communities into the shadows, separating families, and forcing local law enforcement to carry out duties that should be the responsibility of the federal government.”

Over 1 million Houstonians are foreign-born and have contributed $116.5 billion to the city’s economy, according to 2014 data. Considered Houston’s ‘Ellis Island’, Wu represents District 137 in Southwest Houston, where many immigrant and refugee families live and work, and more than 67% of the district’s population speak a language other than English at home.

Wu added: “This law will cause immigrant communities, both documented and undocumented, to live in fear of the police. This law also invites criminals to prey on already fearful communities; knowing that immigrant victims will now be less likely to call the police. This is not how you build a trusting and safe place to live.”

In a press conference last month with Mayor Turner, Wu stated, “Houston and Texas and the United States is a better place because of immigrants. We are a stronger nation because of people who come from other places, because of refugees, because of people who make this their home to make a better life, and who seek the American dream. We are where we are today because of immigrants.”

As a proud immigrant himself, Representative Wu remains a committed voice for all immigrants who continue to make Houston a diverse, unique, and welcoming city.

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Representative Wu Files Juvenile Justice Reform Legislation for the 85th Legislative Session

December 29, 2016

State Representative Gene Wu has pre-filed legislation for the 85th Legislative Session to ensure that the Texas Juvenile Justice system works better to rehabilitate young offenders and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

The primary legislation to reform the Texas Juvenile Justice system is House Bill 676 (H.B. 676) to raise the juvenile jurisdiction age, or the age when a person will be considered an adult, to 18 years of age. This change would bring Texas’ policy in-line with the vast majority of states and the federal justice system.

“I made ‘Raise the Age’ the first bill in our packet to send a clear message that this a priority for our state,” said Rep. Wu. “If this bill becomes law, we can give hundreds of thousands of young people a second chance; to not brand them with a life-long criminal conviction for minor offenses. We can keep these kids off of the path to prison.”

Texas is one of only a few states remaining in the nation that still treats children between the ages of 17 and 18 as adults for all crimes. When Rep. Wu filed this legislation in the 84th Session, Texas was of nine (9) state left that had not made this change. As the 85th Session is about to begin, Texas is now one of seven (7) left.

“We need to be smarter on crime instead of just looking tough,” adds Wu. “Every kid makes mistakes big and small, it’s a part of growing up. The Juvenile Justice system has proven to be far more effective in rehabilitating young people than the adult system. And, the Juvenile system won’t destroy a young person’s life by branding them with a public criminal record.”

Rep. Wu also pre-filed additional Juvenile Justice Legislation, in addition to H.B. 676, which include:

  • H.B. 677 – would allow a judge, following a hearing, to seal a juvenile’s Determinate Probation records. This bill is intended to give juveniles placed on long probations for more serious offenses a chance to seal their records, if they perform admirably during their probation.
  • H.B. 678 – would allow an associate judge to take part of a determinate sentence plea; freeing the District Court Judge to perform other duties. This bill is intended to improve administrative efficiency.
  • H.B. 679 – would ban the use of heavy mechanical shackles on juveniles unless it is specifically ordered by a judge. This bill is intended to curb the instances of chain shackling juveniles as young as 10 years old, when they do not pose any real threat.

Endorsed by the Houston Chronicle

October 13, 2016

We’re proud to have the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle today:

“People are tired of dead kids.”

That’s the reason that two-term state Rep. Gene Wu gave the editorial board to explain the political momentum in the state House to fix Texas Child Protective Services. Democrats, like Wu, and Republicans are working together to file bills for the upcoming session that will provide better pay for CPS workers, more money for foster families, and better therapy for kids and drug treatment for parents who need it.

“The vast majority of cases that come to CPS are because of drugs,” Wu said. “Yet we don’t provide drug treatment.”

As a lawyer who takes CPS and juvenile law cases, Wu is an invaluable resource on this issue, and voters should give him a third term in Austin.

State Rep. Gene Wu Condemns Fox News’ Racist Jokes About Asian Americans

October 6, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

State Representative Gene Wu Condemns Fox News’ Racist Jokes About Asian Americans

Houston, TX – State Representative Gene Wu condemns Fox News’ October 3rd, 2016 segment of “The O’Reilly Factor” by correspondent Jesse Watters. The segment known as “Watters’ World”—recorded under the pretense of asking Chinese Americans’ views on the U.S. presidential election—was devoid of any actual political insight, but full of antiquated jokes using racist stereotypes, drew on thoughtless tropes, and openly ridiculed Asian Americans and immigrants:

“Bill O’Reilly and Jesse Watters have tried to downplay this segment as just good old-fashioned humor, but I have spent my entire adult life trying to push back the casual racism that they find so funny. Their piece was obviously racist and perpetuates harmful stereotypes against all Asian Americans.

The Asian American community is one of the last populations where American society still tolerates this type of bigotry. I can’t imagine that O’Reilly would dare pull this stunt in an African American or Hispanic community, without risking widespread condemnation. The Asian American community has fought too long to overcome these gross stereotypes to allow this to go unchallenged.

This segment also makes plain what Republicans and conservatives really think of the fastest growing immigrant community in the nation. I hope Asian American voters will remember this in November.

Fox News needs to pull this piece, and O’Reilly and Watters need to issue a real apology for making millions of Asian Americans the butt of bad jokes.”

Representative Wu is an Asian American elected official who represents House District 137 in the Texas Legislature.

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Wu Makes Plea for Texas to Continue Legacy of Helping Refugees

September 27, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Beth Martin – 713-271-3900

Wu Makes Plea for Texas to Continue Legacy of Helping Refugees

HOUSTON, TX – State Representative Gene Wu expressed frustration and disappointment at the recent announcement made by Governor Abbott that the State of Texas would withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program.

“This is a purely political act,” said Wu. “While the state’s action will not stop refugees from coming to Texas, the state’s withdrawal will make the job of assisting refugees more difficult for local nonprofit, social service and faith organizations – and create a catchy headline for Republican fundraising emails. Anti-refugee measures politicize and demonize the plight of persecuted people, and do nothing to make Texans more safe. The state’s action will just create more bureaucracy and pain for desperate families.”

For the past 40 years, Texas has administered the federal program through various local organizations, and in the last five years has resettled more than 40,000 refugees, surpassing all other states. Refugees go through an intense security screening process before being admitted for resettlement. Even in the absence of Texas’ cooperation, federal officials will work directly with local organizations to distribute the federal funds and ensure resources are available to assist refugees resettled in Texas.

Houston alone is home to over 70,000 refugees from 79 different countries, and it resettles more refugees than any other city in the United States. Many refugee families reside in Texas House District 137 in Southwest Houston, along with numerous organizations offering programs, services, resources and support.

“Texans are compassionate and hospitable people, and our state has a long and proud history of helping refugees,” Wu said. “At a time when the most vulnerable people in the world need help, we should not turn our backs.” Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, Refugee Services of Texas, YMCA of Greater Houston, Bilingual Education Institute, and Partnership for the Advancement & Immersion of Refugees are only some of the organizations working in Houston to assist refugees.

“I am deeply grateful and humbled by the work being done by these organizations,” said Wu. “I join a greater community in Houston and across the state who remain steadfast in our commitment to welcome refugees.”

Wu said, “The State’s withdrawal also sends the wrong message to our business partners. Houston leaders have spent decades building a reputation that Texas is a friendly and inviting place for international business. This action by Texas leaders says the opposite. I encourage all Texans to support the resettlement of refugees – men, women and children who have escaped the horrors of war, abuse and torture. They are simply trying to rebuild their lives. Please don’t let these hurting people get caught in the middle.”

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A History-making Day

June 8, 2016

This is truly a history making day. This day’s significance will only be second to one in January 2017, when she is sworn in as the first woman President. Congrats Hillary.

Hillary Gene 20160520_houston_0251

Congratulations, Class of 2016!

May 25, 2016

Graduating from high school is an exciting and important milestone. Nearly 10,000 high school seniors from across the Houston Independent School District will receive their diploma this week. We congratulate all of our graduating seniors for this achievement, but I’m especially proud of the students in District 137.

Every graduating senior received a personal letter of congratulations from our office, celebrating their achievement and wishing them the best as they embark on the next chapter of their life.

Additionally, we gave special recognition to the top two scholars from HISD schools in Southwest Houston. The following students graduated at the top of their class as the valedictorian and salutatorian. We couldn’t be more proud!

Jane Long Academy
Shahrukh Ali and Kinza Rizwan

Lee High School
Oscar Wu and Karim Sabar

Liberty High School
Ayat Bakora and Karol Castro

Middle College High School at HCC Gulfton
Sandra Aguilar

Sharpstown High School
Raven McIntosh and Billy Ramos

Sharpstown International School
MaterDolorosa Osueke and Karen Ortiz

District 137 Open House a Success

May 8, 2016

On Saturday, May 7th, over fifty District 137 residents attended our Open House to discuss issues that are important for Southwest Houston and the state of Texas. We received a great deal of feedback from the event that will help guide us in the next legislative session. We thank everyone who was able to attend, and are grateful to have had some exceptional speakers as we focused on the following policy areas:

Education
District 137 includes parts of Houston ISD and Alief ISD, both of which are characterized by the diversity of their student populations. Alief Superintendent H.D. Chambers has been a leader in transforming public education to meet the workforce needs of tomorrow. Chambers offered his insight on the challenges we have as a state to educate 5.2 million children and also spoke about the significant reforms enacted during the 2013 legislative session.

Health Care
Freddy Warner, System Executive for Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and Januari Leo, Government Relations for Legacy Community Health Services both discussed issues surrounding public health. Memorial Hermann is the largest health care provider in the region and Legacy has three clinics in District 137 that provide a full range of services for the uninsured and underinsured in our community.

Warner discussed the cost of health care and the burden on hospitals in providing indigent care for Texas’ large uninsured population and gave an overview of the funding battles over how the state pays for our health care systems. Leo talked about the different programs and services offered by Legacy. Both Warner and Leo discussed the impact of Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid and the overwhelming strain it puts on our hospitals, clinics and healthcare system as a whole.

Public Safety
Celena Vinson, Assistant County Attorney discussed nuisance abatement through civil lawsuits and the different tools that can be used to fight illegal game rooms, gang activity, human trafficking, and other related crimes. Houston Police Lieutenant H. H. Conn talked about law enforcement efforts to build relationships in the community and the support her officers receive in return.

Supporting LNG exports, the Texas way

Houston Chronicle February 26, 2016

The following op-ed appeared in the Houston Chronicle on February 25th.

Supporting LNG exports, the Texas way
Cutting federal red tape will help the economy andraise U.S. energy leadership
By Paul Bettencourt and Gene Wu
February 25, 2016

Bipartisan support isn’t something you hear very often in Washington, D.C., but in Texas we understand the importance of working together to support efforts that will benefit the Texas economy and add jobs. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports are an opportunity to do just that.

Thanks to the shale boom, the United States has moved from a position of energy scarcity to a position of strength and abundance. By liquefying surplus natural gas supplies and exporting it to allies overseas, the U.S. is able to solidify its place as a global energy provider while at the same time creating jobs at home and strengthening our own economy.

Texas is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the next chapter in America’s energy transformation due to our abundant natural gas supply, infrastructure and access to deep water ports. According to studies, LNG exports will create up to 155,000 Texas jobs in construction, operations, exploration and production by 2035 and contribute up to $31.4 billion to our local economies. The benefits of LNG exports are not just confined to Texas. LNG exports are expected to generate as much as $86 billion in net benefits to the U.S. economy and help create up to 2.4 million American jobs by 2035, according to a recent report from NERA Economic consulting. Additionally, a 2015 peer-reviewed study by Carnegie Mellon University found that exporting LNG from the U.S. to Asia or Europe can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with burning coal.

LNG exports will play an important geopolitical role as well. For decades, our allies abroad have been dependent on countries that are politically at odds with U.S. interests in order to meet their demand for natural gas. Now that the U.S. has an abundant supply of natural gas that can be offered to our allies, we have the ability to weaken the stronghold that countries like Russia and Iran have on those countries while at the same time strengthening our own domestic economy. This past legislative session, we were the sponsors of a resolution urging Congress to expedite the permitting process for natural gas exports.

The measure, SCR 32, passed without opposition and was signed by Governor Abbott. Currently, costly and time-consuming regulatory limitations hinder the trade expansion and job creation that LNG exports are able to provide. Under the current process, license applications are delayed or backlogged at the Department of Energy.

This hurts hard-working Texans who will benefit from good-paying jobs and also prevents America from taking a leading role in the world market. An update to our policies is long overdue.

The energy bill currently working its way through Congress includes provisions that would help increase regulatory certainty for economically viable LNG export projects. The proposed legislation imposes a deadline for the DOE to review and act on export permit requests to non-free trade agreement countries following final environmental approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Most of our allies clamoring for U.S. natural gas – Spain, Lithuania, France, etc. – do not currently have a free trade agreement in place with the United States.

During this time of uncertainty in commodity prices, LNG exports still provide a bright spot for the energy industry that will create economic growth opportunities for hard-working Texans and businesses. We must not delay an opportunity to reinvigorate the energy markets, create jobs and provide our allies with a clean and reliable source of energy. As Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, we must continue to call on Congress to address this important issue of a burdensome permitting process.

The Texas way is a recognition of the obvious: that we must allow the United States to realize its full potential as a global energy leader with LNG.


Bettencourt is a Republican Texas state senator from Houston. Wu is a Democrat representing Houston in the state House of Representatives.

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