Tribpedia: Immigration

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.

Images

Joe Martinez, GOP candidate for sheriff of Travis Co. on August 22, 2016.
Joe Martinez, GOP candidate for sheriff of Travis Co. on August 22, 2016.
Hundreds gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to show their support for President Obama’s immigration executive action as the Court hears oral arguments on the action in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 2016. Rodney Johnson’s widow, Houston police officer Joslyn Johnson. "I knew I was in trouble," Juan Leonardo Quintero says of the traffic stop during which he killed a Houston police officer. "I was worried about being put in prison." Obed Josafhat Rodriguez is pictured waving a gun on surveillance video taken from the Monroe Game Room in Houston on Aug. 30, 2013. He and an accomplice were convicted in shooting death of Yolanda Lara, a game room employee. After being pulled over for a broken taillight while a student at the University of Texas at Austin in 2009, Raul Zamora found himself in an immigration detention center instead of class for a week. Sarah R. Saldaña, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., December 9, 2015. Sarah R. Saldaña, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., December 9, 2015. Sarah R. Saldaña, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., December 9, 2015. Hundreds of undocumented children will stay at the Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center near Waxahachie. Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown. Activists nearing the end of their 37-mile march from a federal detention facility to the Texas Governor’s Mansion on Nov. 21, 2015. Activists nearing the end of their 37-mile march from a federal detention facility to the Texas Governor’s Mansion on Nov. 21, 2015. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference met Wednesday in Houston to hear speeches from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Their remarks illustrated the line the GOP is straddling on immigration as it gears up for the 2016 presidential race. “There is always something good that comes from the bad,” said Gutierrez. Gutierrez celebrates as he nears the end of his ride across Texas. He said he wanted to do something inspiring as he waited for a decision on his asylum request. Gutierrez rides ahead on his way into Austin. His trip started with with three other cyclists, but others joined at different stages. Gutierrez nears the end of his 12-day trek across Texas, which started Oct. 29 in El Paso. Gutierrez accepts a hug after completing his 12-day ride across Texas. Those who rode with him say the ripple effects of the ride have sparked hope across the state for others facing a variety of challenges. “This is something extraordinary, this is something beautiful,” Gutierrez said at the conclusion of his ride. “This is a noble cause, this is a pacifist movement.” Gutierrez, who is awaiting a hearing on his request for asylum in the U.S., stands in front of the Texas Capitol after his 12-day ride across the state. The focus of his journey was to raise awareness about the impunity for violent criminals in Mexico and to support his fellow asylum-seekers. What it isn’t, he said, is a protest of the U.S. government. Attorney General Greg Abbott, Gov. Rick Perry, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson and Department of Public Safety chief Steve McCraw at the signing of House Bill 3000 on May 25, 2011.

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