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TEXAS CAN DO BETTER
A set of principles to guide the Texas 82nd Legislature on Immigration
I. Immigration Demands A National Solution
Immigration is a federal policy issue that can no longer wait to be addressed. Any attempts at the local or state level are only piecemeal approaches that will fail to provide comprehensive solutions. We cannot be misled by extreme xenophobic rhetoric. Our America is greater. Our values are about embracing innovation and diversity, and recognizing the contributions of every sector of our society. Congress must act now to fix the broken immigration system.
- Under the Obama administration, removals reached a record high in 2009 of 387,790. The increase was due to a 19 percent rise in deportation of criminal undocumented immigrants. However, the majority of immigrants removed continued to be non-criminals.1
- Ray Perryman, the leading economist of Texas, estimated that if all undocumented people were to leave Texas, the state would lose $69.3 billion dollars in annual spending and 403,000 jobs. Just the income loss in Texas would amount to an $807 de facto annual tax, per person, to pay for the effects of these policies, or $2,400 to $4,000 per Texas family of a typical size.
II. Texas Security Depends on Community Security
Communities are essential to security. Local law enforcement activities should focus on criminal activities, not enforcing civil violations of the federal law. Mandating local police to enforce the federal immigration code strains the resources of local governments and alienates a huge sector of our society, especially in the Latino community. In order to achieve national security and border security, we must incorporate Texas’ immigrant communities and Latinos as part of the solution. Alienating any sector of our community from law enforcement is not good for Texas and is not good for our security.
- Effective crime prevention and crime solving requires trust and is undermined by fear.2 El Paso is the safest city in the country, primarily due to the trust between law enforcement and the community. Trust between immigrant communities and local/state law enforcement is especially important in preventing terrorism and drug violence by keeping open channels of communication and information gathering.3
- Numerous studies by independent researchers and government entities consistently show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be incarcerated than the native-born population. In fact, although the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. doubled to about 12 million between 1994 and 2005, the U.S. violent crime rate declined by 34.2% and the property crime rate fell by 26.4%.4
III. A Strong Economy, A Strong Texas
Our Texas economy is strong because of the efforts all of us have made, minorities, immigrant and non-immigrants, Latinos and non-Latinos, as business owners, employers, workers and taxpayers. Texas policies, including those dealing with immigration, must continue to reaffirm our reputation as a business-friendly state. With a budget deficit close to $25 billion, we cannot afford divisive state legislation that will turn away key economic partners, such as Mexico, and impose unsustainable costs on our state and municipal governments.
- A 2006 financial analysis by the Texas Comptroller found that undocumented immigrants contributed $17.7 billion to Texas’ gross state produce in 2005, creating $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received.
- Latinos are entrepreneurial. 60% of all small businesses in Texas are owned by Hispanics.5
- Texas blazes its own path, Not Arizona’s. According to research by an Arizona-based firm, Elliott D. Pollack and Company, Arizona likely to lose $253 million from conference cancellations and booking declines. And added to this is the estimated $17 million of lost tax revenue that accompanies the losses in tourism spending and employment.6
IV. Respect Texas Family Values
Strong families mean strong communities. Keeping families together remains an important Texas value that helps children excel in school and prosper as adults. Any policies that seek to restrict access to education to our students are detrimental and will undermine the nucleus of our society. As Texans, we must live up to our best values, not be led astray by our worst fears.
- It’s a core constitutional protection that if children are born here, they are Americans. Destroying that principle would be a dangerous mistake that would threaten the freedom of all of us.
- Close to 50% of undocumented families today arrived legally on tourist visas. They exist as mixed immigration families with some children who are undocumented and others that are US citizens. They are strong advocates for the education and want their children to have access to higher education and so they may become productive members of society.
- A RAND study showed that a 30-year-old Mexican immigrant woman who graduates from college will pay $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses each year than if he had dropped out of high school. This amounts to an annual fiscal benefit of over $9,000 every year, money that can be used to pay for the education of others
V. Texas Way of Life
Texas has historically been composed of diverse cultures embracing the American Dream. Immigrants and immigration are part of our legacy as a nation and as a state. As a beacon of opportunity, we Texans must ensure that our laws and policies embody a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our commitment to uphold the promise of liberty and justice for all.
Our state’s future depends on maximizing all of our assets, including the labor, knowledge, and energy of every Texan who contributes to our common goals of building strong families, strong communities, and a strong economy.
2. International Association of Chiefs of Police, “Police Chiefs Guide to Immigration Issues,” July 2007, p. 21-22. http://www.theiacp.org/documents/pdfs/Publications/PoliceChiefsGuidetoImmigration.pdf (last accessed Aug. 24, 2008) Major Cities Chiefs, “M.C.C. Immigration Committee Recommendations for Enforcement of Immigration Laws by Local Agencies,” June 2006. http://www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/mcc_position.pdf (last accessed Aug. 24, 2008)
3. Ibid., p. 6.
4. Immigration Policy Center, “Immigrants and Crime: Are They Connected?,” http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/immigrants-and-crime-are-they-connected-century-research-finds- crime-rates-immigrants-are (accessed December 9, 2010).
5. Retta, Edward. The Positive Contributions of Hispanics in Texas (2007)
6. Marshall Fitz and Angela Kelley, Stop the Conference: The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Conference Cancellations Due to Arizona’s S.B. 1070 (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2010), http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/11/pdf/az_tourism.pdf (accessed December 17, 2010).