Making Democracy Work

Immigration

Co Chairs for Immigration: Updates by Gloria Suarez Sasser Immigration Issue Chair (gloriassasser@gmail.com)

Testimony

Coalitions and Resources

Resources:

  • League of the United Latin American Coalition (LULAC) The Mission of the League of United Latin American Citizens is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.

  • Maldef Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community", MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.

  • Reform Immigration for Texas (RITA) The Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA) is a multi-sector statewide network dedicated to building support for comprehensive immigration reform.

  • *Women in Texas History:Tejanas and Civil Rights Tejanas also worked to increase voting. Ladies LULAC Council 9 in El Paso rallied their fellow citizens to pay their poll taxes, collecting over 4,300 receipts. This campaign contributed to the election of Raymond Telles as mayor in 1957.

Acronyms: What Does That Mean?

Position LWV-TX

IMMIGRATION, 1996 The League of Women Voters of Texas recognizes that cultural diversity is a source of strength. The League of Women Voters of Texas supports economic assistance to those areas of the state disproportionately impacted by immigration. This funding should come primarily from federal, state, and private sources such as corporations, churches, businesses, and foundations. Local assistance is also appropriate.

The League believes that the state should:

  • encourage and fund English as a second language and other assimilation subjects for adult immigrants

  • encourage bilingual information signs in public places where needed

  • require and fund international symbols for all traffic signs.

The League believes the state should support local agencies and groups working with the immigrant population. State support is absolutely necessary for:

  • language fluency for children

  • emergency health care (including obstetrical delivery.)

Additionally, the state should support:

  • language fluency education for adults administration of criminal justice programs

  • assimilation programs

  • housing programs

  • job training and placement for immigrants.

The League believes that the state should provide additional assistance to school districts heavily impacted by immigration for:

  • staff training

  • instructional materials

  • salaries for special skills teachers and aides

  • facility construction

  • curriculum development.

The League supports the establishment and utilization of an electronic system to verify immigration status. This system should include measures that will protect privacy and ensure accuracy. The system should be made available to:

  • employers

  • social service providers

  • housing agencies

  • criminal justice system.

The League supports the mandated compilation of statistics regarding immigrants' use of state services.

Position LWV-US

IMMIGRATION POLICY

Immigration policies should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises; and provide for student visas. Ensure fair treatment under the law for all persons. In transition to a reformed system, support provisions for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status.

For more on The LWV US Position on Immigration Position

Issue Studies and Explanation

Reflecting a widespread interest in the subject, the LWV-TX board recommended and delegates to the 1995 LWV-TX Convention voted to study immigration issues in Texas. A study committee produced a Facts & Issues, Immigration: An American Paradox, which was distributed to League members, government officials and agencies, and other interested groups and individuals. Consensus was reached in the fall of 1996, and the state board approved the new position in November of that year. See the LWVUS Immigration Update 2008 at the end of this publication.

History of LWV-TX Action

1997: Because immigration is largely regulated by federal law, few bills relating to immigration were introduced during the 75th Legislature and no League action was taken. However, one of the League's legislative priorities in 1997, fair and adequate funding and delivery of vital state services in the era of block grants, encompassed needs of all low income persons, immigrants as well as non immigrants.

2001: The League supported legislation to require the Texas Department of Human Services to develop and implement a food assistance program.

2007: The immigration issue generated much sound and fury during the 80th Legislative session, but none of three bills supported by LWV-TX passed. HB 28 (Berman) would have excluded state services to children born in this state to parents who are not citizens or nationals of the U.S., and who have entered the U.S. without inspection and authorization of an immigration officer. The bill died in committee. HRC 11 (Solomon) would have directed the office of the attorney General of Texas to pursue all available remedies to demand the enforcement of all existing federal immigration laws an to recover any money owed Texas by the federal government for costs incurred by the state in dealing with illegal immigration.

SB 151 (Shapleigh) would have prohibited discrimination relating to immigration status or nationality of a person needing or receiving emergency medical care.

2011: The 82nd session saw several proposed bills regarding immigration. The main thrust behind each was to implement the governor's objective to enable all law enforcement agencies across the state to verify the legal status of anyone legally detained. This included increased use of the federal electronic verification system. LWV-TX opposed all of the proposed immigration bills, basically because immigration is a federal issue. The LWV supports federal law providing an efficient, expeditious system for legal entry into the U.S. None of the proposed bills were successful in the regular session.

2009: The 81st Texas Legislature did provide a few minor affirmative measures like allowing children to be absent from school if they are involved in an immigration court hearing, and providing services and protection to victims of human trafficking. However, of the more than 100 immigration bills filed, more than 60 were anti-immigrant. One questionable bill that did pass was a measure which would provide deportation for those convicted of a misdemeanor involving family violence. According to the Progressive States Network the anti-immigration movement failed in most states, and Texas was rated as a somewhat integrated state.