More than 1 million undocumented immigrants live in Texas, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Because of its proximity to Mexico, Texas is second only to California in the number of undocumented immigrants who live in the state.
Since the U.S. Congress in 2006 sparked national debate about illegal immigration, the state's immigration policies have become a matter of controversy in the Texas Legislature.
Anti-immigration advocates argue that the state pays too much to provide services to undocumented immigrants and their children. Because the federal government has failed to reform immigration laws, they argue the state should step in. In 2007 and in 2009, state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, filed a proposal that would deny state services to undocumented immigrants and their American-born children. In each of those legislative sessions, Berman and other conservative legislators filed a slew of bills aimed at discouraging illegal immigration. No major proposals to crack down on immigration have passed.
Immigrant advocates and the state's business groups joined together to work against anti-immigration proposals, particularly ones that would penalize companies that hire undocumented immigrants. The groups argue that immigrants are critical to the Texas economy, taking jobs in fields like construction, agriculture and the service industry that companies would otherwise be unable to fill. They worry that such policies could hurt existing businesses and keep other companies from locating in Texas.
Gov. Rick Perry had initially called on legislators to avoid passing divisive measures that would fuel the flames of the heated immigration debate. But in 2009, as he campaigned for re-election against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry changed his position on immigration sanctions for businesses. He called for measures that would punish companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers.