The law passed by the state of Arizona merely codifies federal law in that state. If one has a problem with the Arizona law, one must also have a problem with the federal law. If the federal law was enforced, there would be no need for an Arizona law or any other law in a state that is proposing similar legislation.
When Washington, D.C., speaks of illegal aliens, the number living in the United States has never changed in the past eight years; it is always estimated at 8 million to 12 million. There are many agencies in the United States that keep track of illegal aliens and use a number somewhere between 20 million and 30 million. In Texas, for example, the estimated number of illegal aliens is 2 million, and since passage of the Arizona law, many more are heading east to the Lone Star State. Two years ago, with the passage of strict legislation in Oklahoma dealing with their illegal population, illegal aliens headed south across the Red River to come to Texas. Our numbers continue to grow. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reports that we have 12,500 illegal aliens in our state prisons and an estimated 12,500 in our county jails.
When law enforcement officers were required to take training under Section 287(g) of the Homeland Security Act before dealing directly with illegal aliens, Texas was promulgating a double standard. If a Texan was detained for any violation, traffic or otherwise, and failed to have personal identification on him, he could be asked any question, including immigration status, and be arrested if warranted. But illegal aliens could not be questioned on their immigration status. It was a major headache for every law enforcement officer in Texas, except for those who worked in so-called sanctuary cities.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently suspended the 287(g) training. President Barack Obama stated last month that the U.S. Congress did not have the appetite to take up the immigration issue. What better time than now to exercise our state's rights and sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? The federal government has failed to deal with the immigration problem. It falls upon the states to seal their borders and deal with illegal aliens as they would with any other lawbreakers. Even if the federal government did act, we would certainly see amnesty, with a pathway to citizenship for 30 million new citizens who would instantly have access to all of our social services.
When I raised my right hand as a legislator and placed my left on the Holy Bible, I swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and the state of Texas. That is a solemn oath to me, and too many of my colleagues quickly forget it. It is our duty to protect the citizens of Texas from the crimes committed by illegal aliens in our state, especially from those who make up 50 percent of the gangs who deal in drugs and commit murder, theft, and drunken driving, as well as those who drive without a license or liability insurance.
The major criticism I have heard of the Arizona bill is that it may lead to profiling other Hispanics who are loyal, longtime Texas residents. But he profiling argument is a case of using race when no other legitimate objection is available to prevent the bill from passing. The bill would apply to everyone and can be written in a way to avoid profiling of any kind. Many members of our law enforcement community are Hispanics, and a sound education program, resembling the 287(g) training, can be part of the bill. Our law enforcement officers must have the capability of dealing fairly and legally with all residents in the state of Texas.
I fully intend to introduce similar legislation in the next session of the Texas Legislature to honor my oath of office, to protect the citizens of Texas and to assert our state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, represents District 6 in the Texas House.