June 19, 2012
So there was a big announcement in Washington late last week that could help a whole lot of Texans – and Texas as a whole.President Obama announced that the government will suspend deportations of young people
who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, have lived here for at least five straight years, and have completed their high school education or served in the military.
This was an excellent, important decision. It’s much in-line with the Dream Act, which I wrote about last month. And it’s a compassionate, common-sense step – albeit a small one – that simply says America won’t ship-off young people who have lived for years as Americans, consider themselves Americans, and are already playing important roles in America’s communities and economy.
As I’ve said before, we need a Texas solution on immigration that goes far beyond Friday’s announcement. That solution must secure our borders and keep us safe. And it must show zero tolerance for those who commit serious crimes.
But it also must recognize people who have lived as Americans for years – and who will meet stringent requirements to serve our country and contribute productively to our economy. The President’s decision is a move in that direction.
Getting reasonable on immigration?
Unfortunately, this obvious and compassionate step by the President met with typically, and sadly, overheated rhetoric
from those in control of the Texas Capitol.As I said last month, it’s a shame that immigration has become such a divisive issue. Some of our greatest strengths have flowed from the country’s diversity. So that diversity shouldn’t be viewed only for its challenges, but also for its boundless opportunities.
Regardless, there was at least a little reason to hope that people wouldn’t fly off the handle over last week’s announcement.
Don’t forget, just a week and a half ago, folks whose political party controls state government were being showered with praise over a plank in their newly adopted platform calling for a temporary worker program for immigrants in Texas – which sort of sounds like an even more expansive version of what the President is talking about, right?
Sure, that same platform suggested throwing kids out of schools
if their parents couldn’t produce the proper papers. And this is the same political party that pushed so hard last year for legislation that would suppress voters and require police to check some folks’ papers and immigration status
, and whose leaders rammed through a budget cutting school funding for the first time in recorded state history – right at the time that young Hispanics are becoming such a huge part of Texas’ student population.But still, progress (no matter how small) is progress, and a lot of us honestly hoped that those in control were moving away from an agenda that many saw as disproportionately hurting Hispanics.
I guess not.
The New Texas
The simple truth of all of this is that Texas is changing. The success of this state has always hinged on the success of its people. And more and more, those people are Hispanic.It’s well past time for those in control to be open and honest about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and whom it’s affecting. They need to acknowledge the effects that their efforts are having on legitimate, law-abiding Texans. And they need to find ways to sew talented, committed Texans into the fabric of our state – if they meet strict legal requirements, serve the nation, and contribute to our prosperity – so that we all can benefit from their incomes and innovation.
Furthermore, there’s no more reprehensible law than one that discriminates against legitimate, law-abiding Texans to gain a political advantage.
Look, immigration is a critical issue for our state and our country. It must not be used as an excuse to discriminate against millions of Texans.
Texas is better than that, and Texas can do better by getting to work on a Texas solution to immigration.