Thursday, October 05, 2006

Anti-immigrant forces plot 2007 Texas Lege agenda

The East Texas Review's Christine DeLorna explores the anti-immigrant issues likely to come into play in the upcoming Texas legislative session ("Perks for illegal immigrants under scrutiny," Oct. 5).
  • Make Local Cops Enforce Immigration Law. Some of the proposals blatantly threaten the public welfare. For example, "Some Republican lawmakers may introduce legislation next session that would prohibit sanctuary city policies and require local law enforcement officials to report suspected illegal aliens, when arrested, to federal immigration officials," she reports. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison proposed the same thing, and I explained then why it would actually harm public safety to do that, not improve it.
  • Let 'Em Birth In The Field, Then Go Back To Pickin'. Apparently, DeLorna reports, some lawmakers also want to take away pre-natal care and birthing services for immigrant newborns - a particularly Scrooge-like position. "As of January 1, 2007," she writes, illegal immigrant mothers-to-be will be eligible for prenatal healthcare under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins told lawmakers at a Sept. 19 public hearing of the Senate Health and Human Services committee." So that's who you're going to target? If these women aren't covered by CHIP, they'll have their babies delivered entirely at taxpayers expense in the local emergency room. So what's the point?
  • Dem Kids Don't Need No Schoolin'. Some legislators also apparently want to disallow immigrant kids who graduate from Texas high schools from getting in-state tuition. "While students residing in this country illegally are able to receive in-state tuition and state financial aid (such as the TEXAS Grant program), this is a privilege not extended to residents of other states," DeLorna complains. Geez. We're talking about kids who live here, who are going to live here, but who can't get the same in-state tuition as other kids in their graduating class. How short-sighted, and cruel. Kids don't choose where their parents take them to live. If you want to punish the parents decision, it shouldn't be done by denying the child access to education.
  • Border Security On Steroids. On border security, Governor Rick Perry wants more federal money. “The fact is,” Perry said recently, “the state of Texas should not have to expend the amount of money that we’re expending today to secure our Border. That’s a federal responsibility." I was actually interested to learn, as I pointed out the other day, that before the Civil War that was actually a state responsibility. Pero no mas. I think we need to spend more money at the border, too. But new money needs to go to clean up police corruption, not throwing good money after bad with the same agencies who've failed at this for years.
  • 'If You Want To Vote, You Must Show Me Your Papers, Comrade.' Finally, the GOP again may try to revive legislation from 2005 that "required voters to use their driver’s licenses at the polls" - this isn't really about immigration, since safeguards are already in place to keep non-citizens from registering to vote. It's about depressing voter turnout generally, especially among those who live messy lives and may not be able to show ID on demand.
I disagree with the agenda she's promoting, but DeLorna's article provides a good summary of what the anti-immigrant crowd has planned for the coming legislative session. For a more detailed, slightly more balanced description of the states' role in immigration issues, see this report (pdf) from February on the subject by the Texas House Research Organization.

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