A midterm Congressional report released today by the National Latino Congreso asserts Texas’ U.S. House delegation votes against progressive immigration reform proposals an average of 63 percent of the time.
The scorecard, called the Immigrant Justice Report Card, grades members on issues the NLC identifies as negative or positive toward immigrants. Examples of negative proposals include a Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would ban the use of federal monies for anything other than construction of the border fence; and an appropriations bill that would ban Homeland Security dollars from being used by state or local governments that do not share citizenship or immigration information with federal authorities. Measures that are pro-immigrant, according to the study, include an immigration detention bill that would further regulate how detainees are treated, and a bill that would amend the Illegal Immigration Act to allow states to define residency for higher education purposes. Seventeen House bills or proposals were considered for the report.
Not one of Texas’ 20 Republican representatives voted in favor of “positive” legislation more than 33 percent of the time. Texas Democrats voted in favor of positive legislation at least 55 percent of the time. And, neither party can boast a member that voted on all 17 measures. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, voted the most, 10 times, while Reps. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, and Ron Paul, R-Clute, voted the least, three times.
Antonio Gonzalez, the president of the Willie C. Velasquez Institute, said that “despite public support for progressive immigration reform, the majority of House members evidenced overall records of non-support for progressive immigrant measures.”
What’s more telling, he said, is the report's conclusion that “members show voting (or) sponsorship records that are inconsistent with the significant number of immigrant-profile constituents in their districts.”
Census data collected from 2006 to 2008 reflects that 225 House districts have what the report considers “high-immigrant” profile constituencies — districts with 50,000 or more Asians, Latinos or other foreign-born residents. Only 120 representatives from those areas, about 53 percent, vote in favor of pro-immigration measures.
Texas’ Latino representatives from border districts fall into that category: they vote in favor of pro-immigration reform the majority of the time, but not one had a 100 percent record. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, scored the lowest on the report card with a 57 percent pro-immigration record. Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, each had 88 percent positive voting records; Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, scored 83 percent; and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, voted in favor of pro-immigration legislation 70 percent of the time. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, was the only Texas representative to score 100 percent, favoring all eight of the immigration-reform proposals she cast a ballot on.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Hispanic Federation and the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities aided in compiling the scorecard.