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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Immigration Reform and the Texas-California Divide

Today's State of the Union speech and the response by Senator Rubio will presumably jump-start the debate about immigration reform.  As such it will test the current status of what I loosely call the Texas-California divide on immigration.

As a Latino born and raised in Texas, when I moved to California after law school I was struck by the vitriolic nature of the anti-immigration sentiment there.  It was the early 1990's and the Pete Wilson/Prop. 187 discourse was going full blast; I still remember the ads with grainy infra-red camera footage of people running across a desert while an ominous voice intoned something like "And they still keep coming."  Not so nice when you realize you're kind of the person they're talking about.  The stark white-brown differentiation contrasted with what I remembered from Texas, and San Antonio in particular, where the local historical narrative unmistakably combined Mexican and Anglo.  It's not like there was no racism (there certainly was), but the atmosphere lacked the sort of us-them tinge that I saw in California.  And it was reflected in politics: back then at least, you simply didn't see the sort of obsession with immigrant-bashing that I saw in California in the 90's.  Of course part of the difference might have turned on different economic pictures.  (But it was tough in Texas in the late 80's.)  All you have to do is look at the second President Bush's attitude toward immigration and immigrants to get a sense of the deeper undercurrent of what I'm describing among conservative Texans.

So what about now?  As someone who's lost his deepest personal links to Texas I can't speak as an informed insider.  But it looks like the Texas side of this balance is under a little stress.  Sure, as a presidential candidate Governor Perry took a lot of heat from the national GOP base when he tried to defend whatever pro-immigrant policies he had adopted as governor.  But my sense is that even within Texas a lot of the conservatives that used to buy into the idea of a bi-cultural Texas have gone pretty much all-in against anything that could be construed as pro-immigrant.  It certainly seems that way from listening to the Republicans in the Texas House delegation.

I'm curious what might have caused this shift?  Was it just the inexorable nationalizing of immigration politics, especially with the rise of the Tea Party?  Or does it also have something to with the nationalizing/homogenizing of Texas's population?  Did all the in-migration over the last thirty years change not just the make-up of the state in general, but the make-up of the state's white population, making it more generically Sunbelt and less imbued with a distinct Tex-Mex identity?  Obviously, local cultures evolve, and I wonder if what I observed as late as the 1980's is simply lost now, just like the phenomenon of Yellow Dog Democrats.

Whatever the reason, the new debate about immigration, and the national GOP's apparent conversion to the electoral wisdom of a more accommodating stance on immigration, raises a final interesting question: will Texas Republicans be able to lead the way to new Republican thinking on this issue?  As someone whose memories reflect the potentiality of that thinking, I have more than a passing interest in this question.

Posted by Bill Araiza on February 12, 2013 at 09:26 AM | Permalink


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Much as I dislike the socialist concept of fairness I believe it is the proper phrase for my problem. I believe when the Mexican or whatever country gives reciprocal treatment to our citizens regarding work, residency and citizenship we can consider new laws but not until then...

Posted by: Dorf | Feb 12, 2013 11:47:27 AM


The most logical answer to asserting some major enforcement on the 11 million (this number is upwards by at least another 10 million) is the illegal alien invasion is for Congress to implement on a mandatory basis a National ID card. (to halt non-citizens voting in election) Our Social Security number has been massively compromised of millions of citizens and legal immigrant’s identities stolen on a nationwide, procured by criminals and illegal migrants and immigrants. Any good private investigator can quickly enlighten an individual, that illegal or otherwise can obtain out diseased persons Social Security number and use it without little chance of being caught? And this is just one instance on how to claim any person’s identity? Approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion each year according to reporting agencies. Stealing people’s identities have become a dark cloud over credit reports, which can wreck a person’s integrity and ability to buy medical insurance; a home mortgages, rental housing; an automobile, RV, boat, small business theft, and other forms of financing and loans; and even Social Security government checks can be compromised?

Theft of your personal information can stop you for being getting a good job. So why with millions of peoples livelihoods at stake, do the lawmakers have no apprehension of this growing issue ruining people, through no fault of their own? Out of this ominous identity quagmire why has not more been accomplished in this archaic ID that is used; although it was not in its exception used for identification? I am very suspicious about the implications of our elected officials generating profits out of daily disclosure of men of women’s grief? Springing up like weeds over the last two generations many security companies publicizing they can detect attempts to access your bank account, or even purchase a car, a mortgage on a house. Could it be that certain disposed participants in Congress, have invested in these companies and are staying silently in the background, yet collecting considerable profits? If you don’t know already many of these elected servants in Washington, have weighty portfolio’s, that are not in the best wellbeing of the common man; we are bought and paid for, by special interests. This type of unethical situation is not illegal, but it is at the financial cost to all Americans. Is this why Washington has no compliance to mandatory upgrade our identity?

The Cost of a few billion dollars to produce a safe, biometric identification card and distribute it to every American would overtime save trillions of dollars as illegal aliens would be outlawed. An ID of this nature could be used for identification at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, for voting in elections, for proof of right to work in the United States, and many other needs associated with keeping your credit worthiness or your security safe from prying eyes. Close to 100 million additional Americans have their personal identifying information placed in peril of identity theft annually? Even records maintained in government and corporate data bases have been lost or stolen. These alarming statistics illuminate identity theft may be the most frequent, costly and insidious crime in this nation. As the new digital tools used to positive overhaul to stop identity theft, so do the types of accounts and services being stolen by identity criminals;

Credit, debit, checking and savings accounts are no longer the only target. Identity fraud has grown to include theft of cellular and landline phone services and even cable, satellite television service; power, water, gas and electric service are not exempt from tampering. Buying and selling from across the globe on the World Wide Web has become a victim. Identity thieves will also use stolen identities to obtain employment and to deceive police when arrested. Children are vulnerable to theft of their social security at birth, hence their identity which are used by illegal aliens to get hired in the workplace. Sorry that we have come to this place in globalized world of computers and data bases, but now we should insist on a card that would save us from future frustration and furious hopelessness that any American can be stuck with bad credit, because somebody unknown had stolen a wallet or purse. Personal ID needs to be updated, with a thumb print and an auxiliary retinal scan that can thwart the majority of criminals. The SS number is to easy to acquire from many sources and we need something urgently to eradicate this ugly blemish that hurts us all.

Posted by: Dave Francis | Feb 12, 2013 5:39:50 PM

The most recent Presidential election was very telling. Obama's support of immigration reform was likely a factor in his election. We are a nation of immigrants and undocumented immigrants that pose no threat should be granted access to citizenship.

Posted by: Alfredo Lozano | Feb 25, 2013 4:09:26 PM

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