Tuesday, September 14th is primary day here in Maryland. Campaign signs litter roadways and volunteers greet commuters as they idle at traffic lights in Prince George's County. One hot button issue that should be on the mind of Maryland voters is immigration. As the number of illegal immigrants continue to rise in Maryland and the economy further spirals downward, voters in Maryland face tough decisions.
Adding to the immigration debate is an organization that has caused outrage and controversy over its mission and programs. CASA de Maryland, also know as the Central American Solidarity Association deserves national attention for it's programs that target day laborers in Montgomery County, Maryland.
From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
“CASA was founded in 1985 in the basement of the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church by concerned U.S. citizens and Central American immigrants. It has since expanded its scope. It is affiliate organization of the National Council of La Raza. It has received funding from a variety of sources, including a two-year grant funding operations in Baltimore from George Soros' Open Society Institute. CASA of Maryland is also a founding member of the National Capital Immigration Coalition ("NCIC") which promotes "comprehensive immigration reform". Other funding sources include the Annie E. Casey Foundation and United Way. They are a member of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. CASA also has received $1.5 million from CITGO, the state-owned Venezuelan petroleum products corporation.
CASA operates five day labor centers throughout the state, with public and private funding, three in Montgomery County, where its efforts have been the center of controversy. There is both significant support, and significant opposition, to their efforts to provide central sites where contractors can pick up day-laborers…."
Judicial Watch has documents here on the day labor centers.
To be clear, a Soros, and Chavez funded organization with ties to the radical La Raza receives millions in taxpayer dollars while Maryland faces severe budget shortfalls,
“House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell, R-Calvert/St. Mary's, offered an amendment Wednesday that would strip $200,000 allocated to Casa de Maryland Inc. from the state's capital budget.
The amendment failed, 47-89.”
A Washington Examiner articles notes that Casa de Maryland recently formed a political organization called Casa in Action and currently receives a significant majority of its funding from the state.
“CASA will receive nearly $2.1 million this fiscal year from local governments, including $1.3 million from Montgomery County, and another $32,000 in federal money, according to Kim Propeack, the group's director of community organizing and political action. CASA in Action has raised $45,000 thus far from members paying $9 annual dues, she added.”
While students languish in underfunded schools that are one step above a daycare or prison, Maryland's Democrat Governor Martin O'Malley partnered with the group to open a multicultural center inside of a restored mansion.
“Governor Martin O'Malley recently joined CASA at the launching of a three-year $30 million campaign to restore the George Oakley Totten, Jr. designed historic Langley Park mansion in Langley Park, Maryland, to be converted into a multicultural center. The center will offer English lessons, legal assistance, job placement”
What other programs have suffered while Casa de Maryland enjoys the seemingly endless largess of state lawmakers? According to the Center for Budget and Policy:
In late 2007 and 2008, some ten states enacted tax increases, closed loopholes, restricted tax credits, or implemented other revenue-raising measures. Major packages were enacted in Maryland, Michigan,and New York.
Other states that have capped or reduced funding for programs that serve people who have disabilities or are elderly include California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia
Maryland cut professional development for principals and educators, as well as health clinics, gifted and talented summer centers, and math and science initiatives.
Some states, such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, have implemented cuts to localities, leading to local concerns about reductions in funding for policing, child care assistance, meals for the elderly, hospice care, services for veterans and seniors, and other services.
Other states cutting higher education operating funding and financial aid include Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland..
The Immigration debate
Casa de Maryland discourages local police enforcement of immigration laws and advocates for driver's licenses for illegal aliens – contentious issues in the current political climate. Local point to the fact that crimes in Silver Spring, Maryland and gang activity are on the rise.
Wikipedia notes that tensions ran high in 2006 when “Gustavo Torres, the Executive Director of CASA, remarked to a reporter for the local Gazette newspaper that CASA was determined to track the leadership of a local unit of Minuteman Project, and take the following actions: 'We are going to target the Minutemen in a specific way... we are going picket their houses, and the schools of their kids, and go to their work. If they are going to do this to us, we are going to respond in the same way, to let people know their neighbors are extremists, that they are anti-immigrant.”
The site Help Save Maryland warns citizens that Casa de Maryland encourages illegal immigration and provides links to a case study on the Langley Park mansion project and a disturbing pamphlet that instructs immigrants in what to do in case of immigration raids.
Did tax dollars pay for this document? The Department of Labor's website shows that OSHA gave a grant of $200,000 to Casa de Maryland, and $225,000 to an affiliate group. The money was described as being for:
The grantee will provide training for high-risk Latino workers in the construction, building and grounds maintenance, agricultural, and warehouse industries in Maryland. Training will be offered through local community colleges and employment centers. Training will include a train-the-trainer module. The training and/or materials will be offered in English and Spanish. Click pictures to enlarge.
The Obligatory ACORN Connection
Politics as Usual
Major players behind Casa de Maryland include Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Perez. Perez, a former member of Casa de Maryland's board, worked on O’Malley’s 2006 campaign, Obama's presidential campaign, and was a member of Obama's transition team. Byron York describes Perez's work with the DOJ:
"Of all the transformations that have taken place in the Obama administration, perhaps none is so radical as that within the Civil Rights Division. Under Perez, it is bigger, richer and more aggressive than ever, with a far more expansive view of its authority than at any time in recent history.
Perez is playing a leading role in the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona's new immigration law. He is promising a huge increase in prosecution of alleged hate crimes."
Readers may remember that Perez was also actively involved in the dismissal of charges in the DOJ case again the New Black Panther Party and has been accused of lying under oath about the case.
It appears that Casa de Maryland has friends in high places.
As Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley prepares to face off with former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in the general election, one has to wonder what win for either side would mean for Casa de Maryland. If O'Malley is elected, the group should anticipate more funding but with two of Ehrlich's former staff members on record supporting the group, one has to wonder if this will be yet another case of different party-same political corruption.
Cross-posted at Emerging Corruption.com.