Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Mexican American, Immigrant, and Greater Latino Community Deserves Palm School

Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt recently announced that she wants to sell the iconic, historically Mexican American Palm School located in downtown Austin.  Not only is it a place to which Mexican children were segregated, but it belongs to the rich and storied experience of the Mexican American Community here in Austin, Texas.
Arts Commission Chair Jaime Castillo suggests in a recent interview in the Austin Monitor, that Palm School will work best as a "museum and cultural learning space, with the possibility of hosting arts and music events to help address the programming overflow from the MACC."  He is urging to the county to sell the school to the City of Austin "as a gesture of respect and honor for Mexican Americans and their place in Austin’s history.” Plus, he adds, its proximity to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center would make it another important touchstone for the City's Latino community.  

Another argument is that Mexican Americans and Latinos, generally, immigrant and non-immigrant alike, simply merit much greater investment by their city leaders than has frequently been the case.  Not only is this fair, but Latinos pay a heck of a lot in taxes and should have much more to show for it than we do.

One doesn't have to look too far to see that Latinos pay dearly in state and local taxes.

A recent study by the "New American Economy," a bipartisan immigrant advocacy group found the following about the Austin Metro Area based on a state-by-state analysis of U.S. Census Data.

Immigrant Household Income equals  $11.0 billion while the taxes they  pay equals $2.8 billion.  Broken down by state and local taxes, Austin metro immigrants paid $747.1 Million.  Moreover, the amount they pay to a federal government is a whopping $2 billion!  It's so shameful and disgusting to consider that these very dollars are used to harass, round up, and deport them.

Consider also other evidence of immigrants' contributions to the Austin Metro Area with a literal 25,037 immigrant entrepreneurs residing here. Another statistic additionally shows that immigrant residents are 13.6% more likely to be entrepreneurs that U.S.-born residents.

Given my focus herein on the immigrant community, this is a gross underestimate of our contributions as Mexicans and Mexican Americans to this city because these figures do not even include Mexican Americans or Latinos/as, generally, like myself.

Inasmuch as this is a calculus or subtext in these deliberations, it is nonsense and terribly offensive for anyone to think that the Mexican American and immigrant, largely-Mexican, community is taking and not giving back when, as the Palm School-coveted-land-grab helps illustrate, that the exact OPPOSITE is true.  

Our community is deeply invested in this issue.  We are involved and we are watching.  To this end, please note the following, happening at this very moment:

Oct 22, 2019 1:30pm Travis Co Public Hearing Save Palm School

May what is right and just prevail.

-Angela Valenzuela

Immigrants In Austin Pay More Taxes, Have More Spending Power Than In Other Large Texas Cities

  MAR 22, 2019

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