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How anti-immigrant is this session going to be?

It will likely be very strongly anti-immigrant. It’s really just a question of how far the Republicans pushing this will go. The Democrats can’t stop them – I’m not expecting the Senate’s two thirds rule to be much of an impediment – so it’s just a matter of numbers on the Republican side. Those who claim they will fight back are too late.

The business community will likely fight legislation, said Rice University political science Professor Bob Stein, especially if the economy begins to improve.

“To the guy who’s running that small business, the roofer, the cementer, that’s a cheap labor force that he can hire up that’s non-union and he can use to make a recovery,” Stein said.

Texas businesses — particularly in the hospitality, agriculture and construction industries — rely on immigrant labor, said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. Legislation seen as discriminatory could hurt Texas’ tourism and convention business, he said.

The illegal immigration issue should be handled at the national level, he said.

The whole reason why we’re going to have this fight here in Texas is because the business community, for all its limp protests about this kind of legislation, has never truly pushed back against it. If they actually cared about this, they would have tried at some point to unelect the ringleaders of the xenophobia caucus. But there have never been any consequences for anti-immigrant Republicans, so there is nothing holding them back. Until such time as the likes of TAB runs an opponent against the Riddles and Bermans of the world, there’s no reason for them to think twice about what they’re doing.

Looming over any immigration legislation is the pending legal challenge of Arizona’s law. A federal judge temporarily has blocked provisions of that law on the grounds that immigration enforcement is the federal government’s jurisdiction. Even if the law survives that challenge, it is certain to face later challenges on the grounds that it is discriminatory, said Scot Powe, a law professor at at UT-Austin.

“You need an example of an American citizen or somebody with a green card being improperly hassled under the law to bring that challenge, and I think that challenge is an ironclad winner,” Powe said.

It’s an iron-clad guarantee that what eventually gets passed will be subject to a lawsuit. The only questions are how much of it winds up getting thrown out, and how much time and money the state spends appealing the verdicts. Because no budget is ever too tight to waste money on this sort of thing. This is what we need to be prepared to be the alternative to.

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  1. Peter Wang says:

    I’m 110% for immigration as a way to keep our country fresh and vibrant. Immigrants and the children of immigrants have the desire to make things happen… to get educated, to start businesses. I am not, however, going to ever get confused and lump legal and illegal immigrants together and just call them “immigrants”. I could see where you were going by the title of your blog, Charles.

    There are a very few issues where my normally semi-liberal self crosses over, and one of them is illegal immigration, and I think there are many people like me. My wife is extremely liberal, a basically straight ticket Democratic voter, but we stand together on the immigration issue. Oh, and by the way, her late father was a legal Hispanic immigrant.

    Sorry, but the passage of an anti illegal immigration bill in 2011 is very likely. Will time and money be wasted in court? Of course. That’s the American way.

    The only people against this bill are the illegal aliens and their families themselves and their often Anglo sympathizers, and small businesses who get a boost from hiring black market labor (and exploiting the laborers). Legal immigrants and their families (I’m a son of legal immigrants) think it’s an absolute travesty that 10 million people are here illegally, have just jumped the bureaucratic lines that we waited so patiently in for years.

    Black people are for it. Try being black, unemployed, and walking up to a construction site where only Spanish is spoken. What do you think your odds are of getting a job? Do you think these businesses follow EEOC guidelines?

    Sorry friend, you’re going to get run over on this issue.

    Peter Wang

  2. Peter, I understand where you’re coming from, but there are two points we all need to be clear on:

    1. The reason we have so many undocumented immigrants is because we allow far fewer immigrants to enter and remain in the country than there are people who want to do so. I mean, we’re not required to make it such a difficult and time-consuming process to immigrate here legally, right? This is the sort of thing that needs to be dealt with at the federal level.

    2. The one thing the state can do, which is what the Arizona law was all about, is empower the police to check the immigration status of anyone they encounter. How many people could prove their citizenship right now, with what they have on them? Of course, people who don’t “look” illegal won’t have anything to worry about. We can all see where this will go, right? Did you see that story about how the private prison industry was the driving force behind Arizona’s law? That’s what’s coming here, too.

    I do expect some travesty of a bill to pass into law. I’m just trying to point out what it will mean.

  3. Carol says:

    Charles, on Point 1: We may legally allow fewer foreigners than want to enter our country, but we also have fewer jobs than Americans would like to have. We do not need foreigners who have no respect for our laws endangering our citizens, draining our resources and taking our jobs. Time to enforce our laws.

  4. Peter Wang says:

    I definitely agree with you on 1. The Federal process is busted.

    Regarding 2., I think there is definitely a concern about the process being abused, and that persons born in the US who don’t have documents on them, and may not speak English well enough to convince an official that they belong here may end up deported with no recourse. I am very concerned about this.

    My comments spoke to the political reality as to why there is huge momentum behind a state-level immigration bill. The public pressure is enormous. If Democrats just want to oppose, oppose, oppose, or just make the GOP own it, they will have no voice, no say in the matter. They might as well not show up for the votes.

    Private prison industry lobbying? I’m not surprised, but I’m not concerned. Every industry tries to push an issue their way. This didn’t start with the prison lobby.

  5. mary t. says:

    About 40 percent of the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants came here legally–the US welcomed them in–to sightsee or to work, and they just didn’t leave when their visas expired. It is a failure of law enforcement, but it would be better directed towards the employers who provide jobs, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Businesses will be all for laws like this as long as they aren’t targeted, because it’s a win-win for them: no penalties for hiring undocumented labor and paying lip service to virulent anti-immigration proponents.

  6. M.A. says:

    “1. The reason we have so many undocumented immigrants is because we allow far fewer immigrants to enter and remain in the country than there are people who want to do so.”

    But it’s not the govt’s obligation to let in everyone who wants in. And maybe the number of legal immigrants should go up. But not concurrently.

    “2. […] How many people could prove their citizenship right now, with what they have on them? Of course, people who don’t “look” illegal won’t have anything to worry about. ”

    Anyone with a driver’s license is automatically OK in Arizona. (You have to be there legally to get the license in the first place – same as in TX, I think.)