Category: Politics

Stimulus package falls short for many college students

Stimulus package falls short for many college students

By Alejandro Hernandez
Bridge Staff Writer
By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published Monday, May 4, 2020

On March 26, Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act bill secured $1,200 for U.S. citizens ages 18 and older and $500 for every dependent child 16 years and younger as a stimulus payment in April.

While some received their checks through direct deposit, a large population still awaits theirs. Many college students became disappointed to find out they would not receive financial assistance through the stimulus. The bill did not guarantee a payment made for those claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return; this includes a significant number of college students. Even if these students are financially independent of their parents and filed their own taxes, their parents could still claim them.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, “The CARES Act provides for Economic Impact Payments to American households of up to $1,200 per adult for individuals whose income was less than $99,000 ( or $198,000 for joint filers) and $500 per child under 17 years old–or up to $3,400 for a family of four.” Thus, these young adults are left out: they are too old for the parents who claimed them to receive $500 for the claimed dependent and since they were claimed as a dependent, they do not qualify for the $1,200 stimulus payment.

Some of these young college students are part of the most disadvantaged populations in the country. Riled with student debt and college fees, many struggle to live on a weekly basis. A large percentage of college students work in service industry jobs, an industry hit hard by recent events, which led to many layoffs.

Sergio Martinez, double major in political science and history, said he was not eligible for the stimulus package since he is a permanent resident, a non-citizen with a Green Card or visa.

“I, unfortunately, was not eligible for the stimulus,” Martinez said. “Personally, my family was hit by [COVID-19] as one of my parents was furloughed and well, bills keep stacking up.”

He said although he was ineligible for the stimulus package, he plans to apply for the TAMIU CARES Grant, which is $9 million provided by the U.S. Department of Education to TAMIU. Half of those funds are earmarked to help students who suffered economic hardships due to COVID-19.

 “I do plan on applying for the CARES Grant,” he said. “I hope to take online classes and the money would come in handy for small repairs at home and to pay the summer tuition. Should I get the grant, I would definitely use it to ‘fix some holes’ around the house, not fall behind on rent and reinvest it for summer classes.”

On the other hand, some TAMIU students received the stimulus check, but many believe a one-time payment is not enough to carry them throughout the summer. Many students have overdue bills to pay or family members to take care of.

Psychology major Javier Lopez said he was able to file as an independent and got the stimulus check after moving out of his parent’s house. Still, he plans to apply for the TAMIU grant.

“I am the only person that is working from my family, so everyone relies on me currently for bills and basic needs,” Lopez said. “I plan on [applying], but the grant asks for past due bills. I luckily am not in that situation, but I could definitely use the help because I have been managing by a thread.”

He continued, saying TAMIU should focus on the well being of students at this time. He explains that many students, such as himself, have taken on more hours at work to help their family members who lost their jobs. Now, more than ever, money is heavy on students’ minds.

“Depending on how everything turns out, if necessary, I am willing to take a semester off to financially stabilize myself,” Lopex said.

Currently, a bill introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., known as the Emergency Money for The People Act might help those left out by the stimulus bill. It aims to give a supplemental $2,000 payment for at least six months to ensure financial stability to all U.S citizens ages 16 and up and $500 for each child, to a maximum of three. The new bill would provide payments to college students and adults with disabilities, even if claimed as a dependent. However, as the White House moves to reopen the country, chances of a new stimulus bill for the public could remain low.

A new stimulus package could mean the public would not have to return to work to pay expenses. Furthermore, supplementing state and local governments would also allow cities to extend lock-down periods, keeping businesses closed and people at home. To be sure, there is no evidence yet to support what additional lock-down time could do to the U.S. economy. As business continues to decline, so does the tax revenue from which these stimulus payments are funded.




Challenger brings in big numbers

By David Gomez Jr.
Published March 30, 2020

Opposing newcomer for the Congressional 28th District of Texas, Jessica Cisneros, came close to dethroning current, longtime Congressman Henry Cuellar.

“I think two of the biggest credentials that I have to go to Congress, the first and most important, is the fact that I was born and raised in the district,” Jessica Cisneros said. “You always want to make sure that you have personal experiences to draw upon when you’re creating law.”

Courtesy | Cisneros Campaign

Although Cuellar is from Laredo as well, Cisneros is capable of bringing up different perspectives from her generation, upbringing and experience—which fueled her campaign.

“My personal and professional experience of having done immigrants’ right advocacy work since 2012 and the broad range of experiences that I had in that,” Cisneros said.

At the end of the day, Cisneros lost the race by less than 3,000 votes. Though, as a first-time runner, at only 26 years old, she showed the district she has a fire inside her and a following ready to back her.

“I think that making sure that we are being heard and that our ideas are valid, is important,” she said.




Cisneros, Cuellar compete for Congress

Incumbent remains in office

By Cecelia A. Jimenez
Bridge Staff Writer
and Joel De La Rosa
Bridge Staff Writer
and David Gomez Jr.
Published March 30, 2020

Incumbent Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is reelected in a close race against newcomer, Jessica Cisneros, for the 28th Congressional District seat.

The late congressional run for the 28th District of Texas was a nail-biter as Congressman Henry Cuellar faced off against first-time political candidate Jessica Cisneros. Both advertised on TV, radio and newspapers: Cueller that he can do the job just fine or Cisneros that she could do a better job as a new face for the people of Laredo, Webb County and nearby counties.

The two candidates did not hold back any punches.

Supportive and smear campaigns reigned daily on all media platforms. These campaigns’ effectiveness might be considered in that they boosted the candidates’ numbers more than 35,000; resulting in a decision separated by less than 2,900 votes.

Cuellar holds a following of supporters since 2005 when he first took office; meanwhile, Jessica Cisneros gained supporters quickly after stating she would run for Congress.

Cisneros said she saw the struggle in her district and wanted to see noticeable change.

“They [my parents] would sometimes work two or three jobs just to make ends meet,” Cisneros said. “[I remember] a lot of those experiences—being around my neighbors, who were suffering through the same thing.”

Cuellar stated he began as and remains that change, for years.

“If you look at [TAMIU] that you are going to school to, as a state representative, myself and the senator, we helped establish and got the construction money, for the University that we have there,” Cuellar said.

“We built this and it was the fastest built university in the state of Texas … the construction of most of the buildings, except for the recent ones that came in, was under my work as a state legislator.”

Courtesy | Congressional Photo

The congressman also voiced concern before President Donald Trump and, has since, not been invited back to the White House.

“I’ve been the only member of Congress [who] has ever been in the White House, sat across [from] President Trump and told him the wall doesn’t work,” Cuellar said. “I have spoken on the house floor, [and the] White House, and I haven’t been invited since I spoke against the wall there, but the wall is something I call, ‘a 14th century solution.’”

Though, he is not fond of open borders either.

“Now, I do not believe in open borders like some people do. We need to have law and order, full immigration reform and sensible border security,” he said.

Not only does the congressman want sensible security on the borders, but has a stance on gun control. He wants it, not only for people in his district, but considering late gun violence.

“The Second Amendment is part of the Constitution,” Cuellar said. “You cannot pick and choose the amendments you want to pick … I believe in responsible gun rights. If you look at hunting in my district … there are a lot of ranchers in Webb County who make lots of money off hunting.

“Responsible gun ownership is important. What you also have to look at is that there are some things we can do. For example: background checks, I voted for that and we passed it over to the Senate and we are waiting for the Senate.”


Twice as nice: Pelosi returns to Gateway City

Twice as nice

Pelosi returns to Gateway City

By Angela Carranza
Bridge Staff Writer
and Reuben Rodriguez
Bridge Circulation Manager
Published March 30, 2020

Returning for a second year, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attended WBCA’s International Bridge Ceremony on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Feb. 22, Pelosi; Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., stood at the border.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Three U.S. House of Representatives members participate during the International Bridge Ceremony on Feb. 22 on the U.S.-Mexico border. From left: law enforcement officers, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., listen to the National Anthem.

Cuellar began the event by welcoming attendees during a ceremonial breakfast at La Posada ballroom where he spoke on the importance of U.S.-Mexico trade through Laredo.

“Our trains carry 55 percent of all the trade between the U.S. and Mexico,” Cuellar said. “If you look at all the trucks that pass from El Paso to Brownsville, compared to Laredo, Laredo still does 51 percent of all the trades that pass. We’re No. 1 in trucks, No. 1 in trains here in Laredo and No. 1 in buses.”

With a symbolic ceremony on Feb. 21, Kansas City Southern announced a second train bridge will be built on the border. This addition is expected to relieve traffic throughout the city and in-crease trade flow.

Hoyer spoke briefly then Cuellar introduced Pelosi.

“Here is someone [who] understands that in our area we [would] rather have bridges than walls because we know that the Rio Grande does not divide us but actually unites us together,” Cueller introduced Pelosi to the crowd.

The attendees gave Pelosi a South Texas welcome as she took the podium.

“I want to take a moment to thank Henry Cuellar, who has been such a champion for making sure we all know that this has been one community with the border going through it,” she began. “The relationship between Mexico and the United States is an important one to better our country.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Pelosi wears a “Sra. Internacional 2020” sash during the International Bridge Ceremony.

The speaker then acknowledged Laredo’s patriotism with its celebration of George Washington.

“This community is the most patriotic place,” she said. “No place in America [are] George Washington and Martha Washing-ton honored so well, beautifully and faithfully other than in this area.”

Before proceeding to the International Bridge Ceremony, Pelosi gave a closing remark, “Thank you all for being who you are.”

She left the ballroom and met with the two Abrazo children representing the U.S.: Natalia Aileen Santos and Oscar Omar Martinez III. They marched onto the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge where the annual Abrazo Ceremony takes place.

“On behalf of the United States Congress, it is an honor to join with leaders from the United States and Mexico for the 123rd Washington Birthday Celebration,” Pelosi told the crowd.

“You are a champion for [the] U.S.-Mexico partnership, helping cultivate our strong economic cultural ties that deliver progress for all American people.”

Pelosi then praised Cuellar for the societal impact ushered during his tenure representing the 28th District of Texas.

“You were right there on the forefront—relentless and persistent to make sure that we would pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement,” she said. “Making sure that, when we did so, we would do so with respect for our neighbor of Mexico, our neighbor Canada and our workers in all three of our countries, [plus] stay true to our values as Americans, wanting to make sure that those values were felt by our neighbors.

“This wonderful event celebrates our countries’ close bonds, and close tradition and it embodies the diversity that strengthens our communities. The Abrazo Ceremony symbolizes the goodwill and affection that is the U.S.-Mexico friendship.”

It is her second year attending the annual Abrazo Ceremony. This event of unity came as Cuellar prepared for a race for his seat in the House.

“We in Congress, with our largest-ever Hispanic Caucus, feel that every day we are engaged with an ‘abrazo’ in our hemisphere,” Cuellar said. “Not just with Mexico but with the entire hemisphere and so many representatives of other countries are here today in friendship.”


Sen. Sanders stops in San Antonio

Sen. Sanders stops in San Antonio

By Alejandro Hernandez
Special to The Bridge
Published March 30, 2020

    Riding the momentum of two primary victories, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., made it imperative to rally in Texas. Sanders focused several stops throughout this significant super Tuesday state—including San Antonio.

    Held on Feb. 22 at the Cowboys Dancehall during the Nevada primary caucus, supporters and media in attendance viewed the results live, leading to loud celebratory reactions for Sanders’ strong lead.

    Sanders walked on stage and led the rally after being declared the Nevada caucus winner. First, he introduced his wife, Jane Sanders, as “the next first lady,” spurring “Jane” chants from the crowd of more than 5,700. His major talking points focused on healthcare, education, raising the minimum wage, combating climate change and many other campaign points for the working class people.

    “We are going to win here in Texas,” Sanders told the crowd. “We are going to win across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time.”

    During the March 3 primary, Sanders received 102 delegates from 30 percent in Texas with 622,360 votes. He lost to Joe Biden, who received 111 delegates from 34.5 percent in Texas with 716,030 votes.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., waves to San Antonio’s crowd during his rally Feb. 22 at the Cowboys Dancehall. Jane Sanders, his wife and political staffer, smiles at left.

“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” an estimated 5,700 people cheered wildly in the San Antonio Cowboys Dancehall auditorium as anticipation grew for the senator to walk out on stage.

Held on Feb. 22, during the Nevada primary caucus, supporters and media in attendance viewed the results of the caucus live while waiting, leading to loud celebratory reactions for Sanders’ strong lead at that time.

Before taking the stage, local activists and political leaders spoke on several key issues that the Sanders campaign is running on. Maria Victoria de la Cruz, a mother, and political organizer moved the crowd with her personal accounts of how the current presidency affected her loved ones.

“Tengo una hija que es recipiente de DACA. Es una maestra fregona, chingona. Si este señor Donald Trump le corta sus sueños, que va a pasar con todos esos jóvenes soñadores. No es Justo Señor Bernie.” A message that reverberates with the large Latino community in south Texas.

Finally, John Lennon’s song “Power to the People” played over the loud speakers and Sanders walked in. He thanked San Antonio and led the rally by declaring his official victory of the Nevada caucus.

“In Nevada, we have just put together a multi-generational, multiracial coalition which is gonna not only win in Nevada, it’s gonna sweep this country.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., speaks during his San Antonio rally on Feb. 22 at the Cowboys Dancehall.

Sanders’ speech heavily advocated for raising the minimum wage, achieving equal pay for women, making it easier for people to join unions, helping rebuild infrastructure and building low income and affordable housing for people. One of his main talking points was about the importance of quality education and the need for better universal child care.

“We need more Latino teachers, we need more African-American teachers … We are gonna fight to make sure that no teacher in America earns less than $60,000 a year,” he urged.

He concluded, saying he will fight for the people by eliminating student debt, the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the criminalization of drugs and marijuana, the increasing number of jail incarcerations, the demonization of undocumented immigrants and many other propositions.

“Brothers and sisters, if we stand together we will not only defeat Trump, we will trans-form this country and create a government and an economy that works for all of us,” he finalized.


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