Sunday, May 31, 2015

My reflection on "Tea party bills targeting immigrant tuition, sanctuary cities die" by Tom Benning

It's clear that Texas Tea Partiers and the Republican Party Platform notwithstanding, the Republican Party in Texas wants to grand stand against "illegal immigration" but not actually do anything about it.  As we all know, anti-immigrant rhetoric makes for good pablum for those running for elective office.  It also allows them to reconcile their politics with the inescapable reality of a massive Mexican/Mexican American/Latino demographic.

I do want to give credit though to both our great legislative leadership and very well organized and powerful statewide movement against these proposals.  The vast majority of those involved of course are the constituency that was created out of HB1403 out-of-state tuition waiver bill itself passed in 2001 session when Rick Perry, a republican, was governor.

To wit, here is a list of pertinent Twitter handles and hashtags:

I often think that these legislative proposals are intended to harm and disparage us as a Mexican/Mexican American/Latin@ community in Texas as a subtle or not-so-subtle form of psychological warfare.  These proposals foster an enormous amount of anxiety, anger, and frustration among so many of us that have to face up to the vitriol.  

However, I increasingly sense that they are also intended to keep us as a community in a defensive, and thusly, a reactive posture.  While our youth and community would certainly not possess the organizing skills that they have as a result of their having to perpetually defend themselves against these proposals, I suspect that they may be a strategy for political containment—that is, they absorb the attention and therefore contain the activism of our community within a specific policy arena to the neglect of other vital policy arenas.

I dream for the day—that I trust shall come—when we can shift our attention and sophisticated movement tools, know-how, and energy to other arenas of public policy like public education, higher education, criminal justice, energy resources, environmental regulation, human service, etc. that are sorely in need of voice, presence, and action for a community that is simultaneously profoundly affected by the work of these committees and largely not present—indeed relatively voiceless on matters of such great importance, or at least so in any way that comes close to their participation in all the anti-immigration battles.  This is not a criticism, just an observation and a hypothesis.

All told, we need to see these other arenas of policy similarly as part and parcel to the broader agenda of disenfranchising Latin@s, African Americans, and the already underprivileged, in general.  After all, undereducated people do not vote to the same degree as educated ones do. 

What is encouraging though are the strategic alliances and networks that we have formed over time and the passion for justice that they inspire.


Tea party bills targeting immigrant tuition, sanctuary cities die

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AUSTIN — Bills offered by tea party Republicans to target illegal immigration appear to have died quietly, after stirring up some of the most emotional and intense debate of the 140-day legislative session.
Barring some last-ditch maneuvering, a proposal to repeal a law that allows some students who are in the country illegally to pay in-state college tuition is done. The same goes for an effort to crack down on “sanctuary city” policies.
Also going nowhere is a measure to create an interstate border security compact that would seek ways for Texas to enforce federal immigration laws.
None of the measures even got as much as a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana. And in the Senate, only the border compact was debated; it passed, but died in the House at a key deadline late Tuesday.
Republicans are poised to succeed in providing a major border security boost — spending $800 million on it over the next two years. But the Legislature’s more conservative members couldn’t get enough traction to force the issue on more contentious policy.
“We just don’t have the time in 140 days to deal with the big-ticket issues and also pander to a small percentage of movement conservatives,” Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican who opposes such proposals, said last month.
The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a border security bill that helps solidify the state police’s presence at the Texas-Mexico border. If the House accepts the Senate’s changes, it will head to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated he’ll sign it.
Many Republicans view the other immigration measures as unnecessary and harmful to their efforts to win over Hispanic voters. Others, having heard from the GOP base, say the state needs to cut off “magnets” to illegal immigration as a key part of border security.
“It’s just bad policy that rewards illegal immigration in perpetuity,” Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, said last month, explaining why she wrote the bill to repeal the in-state tuition program.
It appears that divide will linger unresolved for at least two more years.
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