The history of Texas and of the United States is one of constant change and renewal, with waves of settlement and immigration changing the structural and demographic landscape of each county and region of our state and our nation.
Texas has benefitted greatly from both immigration and migration (people moving in and out of Texas from within the United States), and has one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. While there is controversy and division around border security and family separation, legal immigration and natural birth are driving population growth and diversification of our state’s population. Immigrants from around the world are coming to Texas to work in energy, tech, and healthcare fields, and contributing greatly to our economy and culture.
Unfortunately, politicians on both sides of the ideological divide have failed to forge consensus on meaningful immigration policy reform. Whether it is around stemming the flow of sex trafficking (which runs rampant in Texas), responsible and effective border security, or resolving the fate of Dreamers – politicians seem bent on pointing fingers at each other, rather than solving these problems.
Worse, there are those politicians who are the descendants of immigrants or immigrants themselves, who fail to advocate for meaningful solutions. In particular, State Representative Jose Manuel (JM) Lozano, who was born in Mexico, has been a source of consternation to immigrant activists. Lozano seems to fall into the category of immigrants who seek to “pull the ladder up after themselves,” failing to see the hypocrisy of supporting policies which scapegoat immigrants, rather than addressing the issues in a more thoughtful manner.
Lozano co-sponsored SB 4, the so-called “show me your papers” bill, which was opposed by law enforcement leaders across Texas. Law enforcement agencies need the cooperation of immigrant communities to effectively serve and protect their jurisdictions, and raised concerns about witness cooperation, crime reporting, and intelligence gathering being adversely impacted by the restrictive policies being pushed by the legislature, but the House passed the bill with Lozano’s support.
Lozano also voted against an amendment which would have excluded minor children from having to answer questions from law enforcement about their immigration status.
Worse, in 2011 Lozano went missing in action when the House voted to strip eligibility for indigent health care services from immigrants. Rather than try to keep immigrants in the health care system, which improves health outcomes for the community at large, Lozano skipped out on the vote for SB 420 and on immigrants.
At a time when the debate over immigration has devolved into finger pointing and name calling, and even near-brawls on the floor of the legislature, we need legislators to step into the breach and bring both parties and all views into reason. Rather than continued division, we need legislators to pass comprehensive and meaningful policies. We need to Reform Austin.