Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Texas Anti-Immigration Hysteria

Just when you thought Arizona had usurped Texas’ standing as the most xenophobic state in the nation, Texas has come back with a host of proposed new anti-immigrant legislation, including one that requires public schools to collect and maintain a “blacklist of undocumented students.” Because schools cannot oust children based on their residency status, the law is mostly toothless. However, it will likely ratchet up the climate of bigotry and intimidation in Texas and frighten some parents into pulling their kids from school.

For details on the plethora of racist, paranoid and proto-fascist laws being considered by the Texas legislature, visit A summary of some of these bills follows:

  • HB 17 (Riddle) Makes undocumented immigration an act of criminal trespassing, rather than an administrative offense and directs cops to “arrest without warrant a person who the officer has probable cause to believe” is an “illegal alien.
  • SB1070 is a copycat.
  • HB183 (Solomons) directs law enforcement to verify the “immigration status” of anyone arrested.
  • HB 296 (Berman) During any detention or arrest, officers must make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of the detainee.
  • HB16 (Riddle) requires voters to present photo identification in order to vote
  • HB22(Riddle) Requires public schools to determine the citizenship and immigration status of students and to compile a database of students’ citizenship status.
  • HB38(Berman) Constitutional amendment to establish English as the official language of Texas
  • HB81(Flynn) Prohibits state agencies from using public money to print non-English documents or signs
  • HB197(Solomons) Requires proof of citizenship to work in Texas.
  • HB292(Berman) Denies birth certificates to children of undocumented parents.
  • HB293 (Berman) Denies children of undocumented parents the right to receive state benefits.


  1. Mike, would you care to elaborate how the above are in any way shape or form racist?

  2. I'm surprised you bring up "racist" which I thought was pretty self-evident by the nature of the bills, rather than the other far more provocative terms I used, such as "paranoid" and "proto-fascist."

    Nevertheless, to answer your question:
    (1) Part of the racism is institutional and based on how the laws would be carried out (as evidenced by other states that have similar laws). Latino and other dark-skinned suspected illegals tend to be stopped and questioned far more than light-skinned, European, Canadian, and Australian immigrants.
    (2) The English only laws are racist because they deny services and rights to non-English speakers, many of whom are here legally. While this could affect white European immigrants, the majority of immigrants affected will be Hispanic.
    (3) The fact that anyone feels the need to enact such laws stems from xenophobia (a type of racism) and the misperception that immigrants are somehow the cause of local citizens' joblessness, declining standard of living or crime. Not only is this not borne out by the facts, but it misplaces blame on other victims of the same rotten economic policies that enrich a few wealthy Americans at the expense of the rest of us.

  3. Thank you for your response.

    1) Out of all the bills listed above, only one of the bills opens the door to potential profiling. Where can I find valid statistics that show minorities are stopped more? The cities that have participated in data collection on profiling according to the DOJ, I.e., San Jose, San Diego, North Carolina, admittedly stated there is no independent mechanism for checking their data's accuracy.
    2) How does an English only country deny services and/or rights? I was in Germany a few years ago and none of the signs were in English and none of our waiters or waitresses spoke English. I respected their country and didn't feel like it was my place for them to accommodate me because I only spoke English. Furthermore, if I immigrated there, I would surely learn to speak German out of respect for their country. I understand that we are a country of immigrants. The problem is that many illegal immigrants don't respect our country. English only should unite all legal immigrants and legal citizens. Our country can't afford to pay for people here illegally and needs to eliminate money spent in education and translation. Have you seen the states budgets this year?
    3) Anyone being our lawmakers and the majority of us citizens? It's my opinion that most Americans aren't afraid of foreigners. They see what's happening first hand and react rationally (with a few exceptions on the fringe) and know there perception is reality. The proposed bills are to protect legal immigrant and us citizens rights and helps identify those who are here illegally. Illegal being the operative word. Is it any coincidence that in Arizona illegals make up 7.6 percent of the population yet 14.7 percent are incarcerated? I started in the mail room and worked my way up into executive leadership. I've spent 20 years working my but off to live the American dream. I have it and I am not about to let it go! I am considered wealthy according to tax brackets. I am a tax payer and am tired of watching my country go down the drain due to the progressive nanny state politically correct agenda. I don't agree with you.

  4. The bills appear to be fair and to target all foreigners equally. However,in reality, cops do profile, even without such laws, and not just in Texas and Arizona, but in liberal California and New York, too. Laws like these simply make it easier for cops to justify profiling or, in some cases, frustrate and anger the cops for giving them more paperwork and hassle for no apparent benefit.

    As a visitor to a foreign country we need fewer services and aren't allowed to participate politically. Anyway, just because Germany doesn't have signs or information in English doesn't mean we shouldn't have them in Spanish or Chinese. Also, Germany is hardly a paragon of pro-immigration sentiment.

    Learning to speak the language of the land where one lives is certainly ideal and I suspect most people do try. However, until one learns the language, one may still need services in their native language. Also, what about Spanish speaking visitors and truck drivers from Mexico driving legally in the U.S? Having bilingual signs in border states like Texas, Arizona and California would certainly make the roads safer.

    Your statistics on immigrant incarceration aren't a very good argument. In Arizona, Latinos are racially profiled and incarcerated at higher rates. Latinos are incarcerated at higher rates than whites in most states, as are African Americans and, most significantly poor people. If most illegal immigrants in Arizona are Hispanic and Hispanic people are disproportionately arrested, then of course there will be a higher rate of undocumented prisoners than legal citizens.

    As far as the nanny state goes, the biggest recipients of government and taxpayer giveaways are larger corporations, especially oil, banking, Big Ag, Big Pharma and the military. Poor immigrants come here because their ability to farm or make a living has been destroyed by NAFTA, another nanny state give away primarily to American corporations.