No other governor in modern Texas history has had the same hardline stance on refugee resettlement as Gov. Greg Abbott. But one other dealt with a refugee crisis as polarizing and tumultuous: Bill Clements.
As Texans, we are failing our immigrant children. Senate Bill 4, the anti-sanctuary cities bill signed into law this past session, places a burden on law enforcement officers to act as immigration agents. Similar to show-me-your-papers bills that were passed in Arizona and Alabama, SB 4 jeopardizes the trust between law enforcement and community members, instills fear and anxiety in children and their families, and is likely to have detrimental effects on the economic prosperity of our state.
Our divergent relationships with refugees have been on high-profile display even as we experience the largest waves of displaced people the world has seen in modern times — due in large measure to the tragic civil conflict in Syria. Yet as the U.S. and other world nations pause to commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20, one simple fact continues to be overlooked: We in America need to welcome refugees.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in conversations about policy and the system as a whole, but we cannot forget that how we choose to address immigration as a country is also personal: It directly affects the lives of millions of people.
This isn’t about decorum. I’m a sailor; I can take the salty language. This is about whether we sit idly or stand up in the face of ethnic scapegoating, racial profiling and abusing the power of the state to intimidate the less powerful.
The state's new anti-sanctuary law will allow local law enforcement and other government officials to inquire about a person’s immigration status during unrelated interactions. This turns every interaction with a government official into a potential cause for deportation.
If this sanctuary cities law goes into effect, Austin and other Texas cities will be forced to make our communities less safe. And we’re speaking out even though this new law would, incredibly enough, allow our state attorney general to remove local elected officials from office if they endorse a different policy, even one that’s in accordance with federal immigration law.
One can conclude that the new anti-sanctuary cities law oppresses undocumented immigrants. The far-right members of the Texas Legislature seem set towards further persecuting a group of people whose presence benefits a number of huge labor-intensive industries in Texas from agriculture to energy, and their actions are gaining notice.
When I saw you, my thoughts went back to something that happened to my own ancestors many years ago, during slavery — when families were torn apart, children were sold and taken away from their families. Husbands and wives were separated.
The passage of SB 4 alongside impending federal health care reform should wake up Texas’ health and immigration leaders to the very real implications of the intersections of their fields. These leaders should catalyze a lifesaving public dialogue to reform health care delivery and fight against dangerous health and immigration policies.
As the Texas Legislature finishes the anti-sanctuary cities bill, Senate Bill 4, one question keeps going through my mind: When did it become so easy for the Republican-controlled leadership to ride roughshod over people like me and those who represent the interests of the Latino and immigrant communities?
Yes, our immigration system is flawed and needs reform. Our elected representatives in Washington are right to want to improve and review federal programs to ensure they are working in the best interests of all Americans. But ignoring the needs of our economy by denying American companies access to global talent runs the risk of moving those jobs and even entire companies abroad — taking wages, tax base and innovation with them to competing markets.
Octavio Paz’s solution to American democratic problems was to return to the past. The U.S. has to recuperate its unity, which today, in this highly divided world, seems idealistic and complex. And America needs to return to “the origins, to the foundation of the nation. To recuperate the vision of its founders, not to copy them, but to make a new beginning.”
In looking to build a Texas that leads the country with a strong economy, we must ensure we’re giving children strong starts. Separating children from their families will not only inhibit children’s healthy development but incur long-term costs to Texas citizens for untreated mental health issues.
Regardless of one’s policy views, it’s important to understand that border wall litigation will be protracted and expensive, driving up the ultimate cost of the wall, likely to be borne by American taxpayers. Indeed, no matter the results of each trial, the government will owe money to the landowner — the question is just how much.
Enforcing immigration law is the responsibility of federal law enforcement, but that does not mean Texas officials should be limited to making a phone call and hoping federal agents show up in a timely manner. This session, the Legislature must give law enforcement officers the authority, under state law, to arrest, detain, and charge individuals who cross our Southern border illegally.
For ICE agents to detain someone in family court when she is seeking an order of protection against her abuser flies directly in the face of both the letter and the spirit of these laws and punishes the very victims these laws were designed to protect.
When we turn our backs on refugees — in this present case, the Syrians who have suffered all the plagues of Job and more in the last few years — we commit an unpardonable act of inhumanity. We also weaken and degrade our country by falling victim to today’s version of Klanspeak, which seeks to demonize all immigrants who fall into certain religious or ethnic categories.
Ours is just one of many success stories that make Texas and the U.S. what they are today. Immigrants and refugees like those trying to come to our cities now share similar struggles and aspirations. They are not trying to harm us; they seek to make America their home.
Texas residents may feel safer as a result of this destructive legislation, but it will not be long before they will also feel the consequences of a vanishing immigrant community in terms of higher prices, labor shortages and a stagnating economy.
This executive order also undermines America's principles of fair and equal treatment of all people around the world regardless of race, religion or country of origin — core tenants of the U.S. Constitution and the founding of our country.
We cannot allow local governments to pick and choose the laws they want to enforce.
Two months before Houston became a "Welcoming City," Interim Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman quietly renewed the 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to screen for undocumented immigrants using the Immigration and Customs Enforcement database.
With a Trump presidency and Republican-controlled Congress committed to securing the border, the question must be asked: Why should the Texas Legislature be in the border security business at all?
Sanctuary policies endanger public safety, fuel illegal immigration, waste millions of dollars and conflict with federal law.
The thousands of compassionate Texans who have helped resettle refugees for over four decades in the Lone Star State — citizen volunteers, people of faith, community groups and social service professionals — will not abandon them in their hour of need.
Our nation needs the political courage necessary to ensure America's borders are secured in a way that stops the drug traffickers, human smugglers, waves of illegal immigrants and, God forbid, terrorist infiltrators from taking advantage of this vulnerable situation.
History will harshly judge mass incarceration of Central American refugees. Texans should not stand by as it takes place in our backyard.
Immigrants like me continue to see opportunity in the inspiring words of the Declaration of Independence. But those same words can also represent a big obstacle toward making the United States a welcoming country.
The reflexive anger some people have toward immigration is easy to understand, but it doesn't really comport with reality.
By guaranteeing a taxpayer-subsidized attorney for their civil proceeding, Sen. Harry Reid's new bill would effectively give illegal immigrants greater rights than citizens.
Pope Francis, who will visit Ciudad Juárez on Wednesday, has decreed 2016 the Jubilee Year of Mercy. With all the unpleasant politics and xenophobia rampant in Texas today, our state leaders could stand to be more merciful.
Today marks the first anniversary of President Barack Obama’s immigration actions. For me, the anniversary is personal.
The statistics do not lie: During the last two decades, Texas has experienced a material increase in human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and drug-related homicide as a direct result of increased illegal immigration.
One reason for Texas' success is our hardworking and productive immigrant population — a fact Gov. Greg Abbott not only ignores but seeks to distort for political purposes.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution makes clear that Texas has an obligation to make sure all children who are born in this state have a birth certificate issued shortly after birth — even those of undocumented immigrants.
Too often, politicians use religion to demonize certain ideas or people, but ignore what Pope Francis asks us to do, “protecting the vulnerable” and “committing ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.”
Texas celebrates ethnic diversity and empowers newcomers to become prosperous citizens. In the final days of the legislative session, lawmakers should oppose any bills that seek to change that.
The state's approach to securing the border is the very definition of throwing money at a trumped-up issue that helps politicians win elections but serves no public policy purpose.
A federal judge's decision to block President Obama's immigration actions has left the lives and dignity of real Texans hanging in the balance. Here are two of their stories.
Complicated politics, challenging policy and changing demographics — that's immigration in Texas. And that's why we're in for another interesting legislative session this year.
With the stroke of his pen, President Obama has managed to unilaterally tear a fissure in our country's constitutional foundation.
With Congress refusing to fix a broken system, now is the time to make the American dream a possibility for hard-working immigrants, as it was made possible for me nearly three decades ago.
The Pentagon last week extended a program designed to bolster our military with more foreign-born recruits. That's a good thing. But we need more new citizens in every occupation and at all skill levels if we want the U.S. to be able to compete.
Only five years after the Obama administration did the right thing and ended the barbaric practice of detaining families at Texas' T. Don Hutto Residential Center, we return to our unfortunate past.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has woven a tapestry of small lies and half-truths into a full-cloth fabrication about immigration and the border.
As the mayor of Rio Grande City, I've seen firsthand how the recent influx of immigrants has overwhelmed local law enforcement. We need all the help we can get.
Congress is ready to act on the still-festering border crisis, but the president and Democrats won’t let us. And the thousands of children at risk of abuse and violence are bearing the burden.
There’s a human cost to Congress' and the president's inaction on our immigration woes. I’ll keep pushing for a fast, fair process that brings children home to their families as soon as possible.
I admit that my views about immigration are complicated — influenced by tragedy and terror. But I know that we fear what we don't understand. And we as Americans must now seek to understand.
The deployment of National Guard troops to the border was the right decision, and I have complete faith in our military forces. But as border woes mount, we must remember the lessons of the past.
Our immigration system is overwhelmed and needs to be fixed, but is there no place for mercy? People who just want a safe place to work and raise their families aren't a threat to our nation. They're an asset.
Call me a hypocrite, but I don't support amnesty for all. As an immigrant and owner of a successful restaurant, however, I realize that we all need a helping hand sometimes. Here's how I would change the system.
We can follow our conscience and calmly accept the migrant children on the border in their hour of need. Or we can do what the governor has done: sensationalize a humanitarian crisis and prey on fears.
After letting the crisis on the border fester for over a month, Washington is still barely doing anything to stem the tide of migrant children entering our country. Texas must act on its own now.
The humanitarian effort on the Texas border has thrust the Rio Grande Valley into the spotlight, but the media coverage hasn't told the whole story. Here's what it actually looks like on the ground.
Our diverse faith traditions teach us to welcome our brothers and sisters with love and compassion, regardless of their place of birth. Texas’ future is tied to how we help these new immigrants become a part of our story.
I was once hopeful for the future of the Texas GOP. But at our recent convention, the approval of a humiliating platform plank exposed the charlatans leading our party.
The defeat of the “Texas Solution” at the state Republican convention was a stunning victory for Tea Party activists — and a reminder to the GOP establishment that we won't back down.