Speaking Spanish – something 40 million Americans do – is all over the news.
When a Manhattan man went on a racially charged rant last week after hearing restaurant employees speaking Spanish, he said repeatedly, “It’s America.”
You get the message — ‘This is America, we speak English here.’
He’s right, of course, we do speak English in America, but that’s not all — we also speak over 350 different languages at home, according to a census report. Indeed, more than 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home, the 2015 report found.
We are a nation of immigrants, after all.
True, most Americans speak only English at home or a few other languages like Spanish or Chinese or Vietnamese. Still, the data reveals the breathtaking range of language diversity in the U.S., the census said.
Take New York City, where the xenophobic meltdown occurred and where more than 1 in 3 metro area residents speak a language other than English. More than 200 languages are spoken by the 8.6 million people who live there, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
“They’re all New Yorkers and they’re all welcome here,” he said.
As the nation goes, so goes Austin, where se habla Español. About 358,000 people age 5 and over – out of a total metro area population of 1.65 million — speak Spanish at home. In all, slightly more than 27 percent of Austin metro area residents spoke a language other than English. After Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese topped the list of other languages spoken here.
Spanish was tops as well among the other 350 languages spoken in the U.S., according to the census, which gleaned data collected from 2009 to 2013.
Other top languages spoken, in order of ranking, were:
French (including Patois and Cajun)
Spanish vaulted into the national consciousness again the other day when a U.S. Border Patrol agent detained two women, both U.S. citizens, in Montana simply for speaking Spanish. Caught on video, the incident went viral on social media.
“Speaking Spanish is very unheard of up here,” the agent told the women, attempting to explain why he stopped them but neglecting to state the obvious – speaking Spanish is not a crime.
He’s right that in Montana seldom is heard a Spanish word. In the entire state – its 1.05 million population is hardly bigger than the city of Austin’s — only about 1.5 percent of residents speak Spanish.
The irony? Montana is literally Spanish, coming from the word montaña, which means mountain.
President Trump is learning that the problem with asking U.S. taxpayers to pick up the $18 billion tab for his border wall is that they have long memories. Particularly when there’s money involved.
They remember when Trump promised ad nauseam at campaign rallies across the country in 2016 that Mexico would pay for a wall. Trump staked his bid for the presidency on it.
So, it’s natural for them to ask now, “What do you mean, you want us to pay for it?”
Faced with the reality that Mexico won’t pay – they were never going to – it should be embarrassing for the president to have his hand out in order to make good on a campaign promise he knew he couldn’t deliver. He should be more embarrassed that he is asking for border wall funding at the same time he’s playing political games with the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people known as Dreamers. These are the immigrants who came to this country illegally when they were children. Trump is insisting that a deal in Congress to avert a government shutdown and to extend legal protections for these young immigrants will only happen if lawmakers approve funding for his vision of a border wall.
Still, Trump isn’t giving up on the idea that Mexico will pay, no matter how preposterous that idea might seem. On Thursday, he tweeted:
“The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!”
Perhaps the president’s most ardent supporters will buy that sketchy “Don’t worry, Mexico will pay you back” promise, but most Americans won’t.
It’s important to note that most Americans don’t want a border wall, either, according to polling. And nearly nine in 10 Americans favor allowing Dreamers to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to a CBS News poll out today. DACA gives recipients work permits and protects them from deportation.
Dreamers shouldn’t be punished for their parents’ actions to bring them here in search of a better life — some were infants when they came. Nor should they be played for a political football.
The president can do the right thing and untether their fate from his condition for funding for a border wall, one that most Americans don’t want.
Trump tweeted more about the wall Thursday, taking the extraordinary step of contradicting his chief of staff by saying that his position on a border wall had not changed.
On Wednesday, the president’s chief of staff, John Kelly, said Trump was not fully informed when he promised to build a wall last year. He said the president’s position had evolved.
Trump shot back on Twitter: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water…”
Bear in mind that the president promised over and over again in 2016 to build a wall spanning the nearly 2,000-mile-long southern border. More recently he’s told lawmakers that a continuous wall won’t be needed after all because of natural barriers. The $18 billion he’s asking for now would pay for about 900 miles of wall.
That sure sounds like a stance that’s evolved. What gives?
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said earlier this month the president had “discovered” there are rivers, mountains and rugged terrain that aren’t conducive to building a wall in some locations.
For President Trump, a border wall is a signature piece of his domestic agenda, of such magnitude to him politically that he fumed with Mexican President Peña Nieto and pleaded with him to stop saying Mexico wouldn’t pay for it. More on that later.
For U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, however, a border wall is important, but it’s not everything.
“It’s not the whole story,” the Republican Texas senator said Thursday as he presented his $15 billion border security plan that relies more on personnel and technology and less on a wall than the president might like.
As Maria Recio reported in the American-Statesman, Cornyn’s border plan calls for a layered strategy of walls, fencing, levees and technology. Called the Building America’s Trust Act, the bill would increase the number of federal agents at ports of entry and on the border, as well as add more immigration judges and prosecutors. It also would pour more resources into state and local efforts to fight drug trafficking.
Cornyn’s plan brings a more reasoned alternative to Trump’s one-size-fits-all, build a border wall approach. It is also likely to go over better with Texans who oppose a wall for a number of reasons, not the least of which is some people just don’t think it’s necessary. Many of those critics live along the border, a point Cornyn subtly referenced when he said federal authorities should consult local officials in shaping border strategy.
That’s something you hear a lot in South Texas and up and down the border, where some residents feel they’ve become a requisite photo op for politicians who swoop in for an hour or two to assess border security — as if that’s all it takes — then return to their respective homes in faraway states. That’s what Trump the presidential candidate did in a 2015 visit to Laredo.
It’ll be interesting to see how Cornyn’s bill progresses and whether it receives bipartisan support. As a border senator and majority whip, he holds considerable sway in Congress and on the fortunes of any border security measure.
‘You cannot say that to the press.’
Trump paved a path to the White House in no small measure on his boastful promise to build a “beautiful” border wall.
“And who’s going to pay for it?” Trump would ask delirious supporters at campaign rallies.
“Mexico will!” they would roar in response.
But leaked transcripts of a January phone call between Trump and Peña Nieto reveal the president knew Mexico would never pay for the wall and that his demand for payment was just a political play. More importantly, he wanted the Mexican president to stop saying publicly that Mexico wouldn’t pay for a wall.
Trump acknowledged that his public posturing on the wall had left him in an extremely tight spot politically.
“The fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind, because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to,” Trump told Peña Nieto in the call.
When Peña Nieto kept insisting that Mexico wouldn’t pay, Trump said: “You cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that.”
Trump later said the border wall is not all that important – remarkable considering all his bluster about it.
“Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important (thing we) talk about,” Trump said.
Trump has steered away more recently from demanding that Mexico pay. He’s asked Congress for a $1.6 billion down payment for the wall, which the House has approved. Mexico will “reimburse” the U.S., Trump has said, without offering details on how that might happen.
That all sounds fuzzy. One thing is clear from that January phone call, however: Mexico won’t pay for the wall, and Trump knows it.
That means — and let’s face it, we knew this all along — American taxpayers will foot the bill, which the Department of Homeland Security says could hit $21.6 billion. Will Trump’s supporters still cheer?
From atop a dusty bluff on the U.S. Mexico border in deep South Texas, the mighty Rio Grande commands the panoramic vista below. Its waters a muted hue of green, the river courses wildly in every direction, zig-zagging here, straightening out there for about a mile due south before making an impossible hairpin turn due north, then zig-zagging again. With its bedeviling twists and turns, the Rio Grande is God’s work or Nature’s work, or both.
In communities up and down the Rio Grande Valley, people’s homes, their farmlands, nature trails and wildlife sanctuaries, cemeteries and soccer fields are caught in the space between. Intended to keep people out, the fence instead cuts off sizable pieces of Texas from the people who live there. Even some homeowners have been cut off from their own land.
Then there’s the case of Greg Garcia. To get to his classes at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Garcia regularly passes through an opening in the 18-foot-high border fence. To get home, he drives south past the fence, where U.S. Border Patrol agents let him through.
Large numbers of people make similar every-day adjustments to get to school, to their jobs and to their homes. It’s an alternative universe not like the way of life people along the border knew for generations before, a carefree existence that allowed children to frolic in the river’s cool waters on scorching summer days.
Though I’ve lived in Austin most of my adult life, I grew up in the Valley and still consider myself a son of the border. When I was a kid, crossing the border meant a Sunday afternoon outing with your parents, strolling the plaza, getting your shoes shined, stocking up on cookies and candies and enjoying a Mexican coke before it was hip.
Not everyone thinks the fence upsets the way of life here, however. Arnold Lopez says he hardly sees the steel fence anymore, having crossed it so many times. “It’s not like it’s the Berlin Wall or anything,” he told Schwartz.
Only about 10 percent of the border in Texas is currently fenced in, but President Trump has promised to build 1,250 miles of new border wall, most of it in Texas. A Department of Homeland Security report puts the price tag at a staggering $21.6 billion. If Trump fulfills his vow, it’s likely that much more of Texas will be caught in a no man’s land, because unlike many parts of other border states, in this state the Rio Grande hugs residents’ back yards and vast parcels of private land.
The madly winding shoreline made building a wall a maddening experience for federal officials a decade ago. They learned that fencing along the river’s banks would exacerbate flooding. And most riverfront land in Texas is in private hands, forcing the government to negotiate rights of way or claim eminent domain in the courts.
The prospect of extending the existing wall should lead Texans to ask if building more will expand the No Man’s Land beyond just South Texas.
A border wall is President Trump’s magic answer for solving illegal immigration. His campaign rhetoric stirred up fear, painting a portrait of a sievelike border overrun by criminals and rapists. Trump would have you believe that the estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. all sneaked across. He would have you think they’re all from Mexico, and that illegal immigration is growing.
A new study by the Center for Migration Studies, however, separates hot rhetoric from cold reality. The report found that fully two-thirds of immigrants who joined the undocumented population in 2014 did not sneak across, but instead entered the country legally with a valid visa and then overstayed. No amount of border fencing will stop people from entering the U.S. legally.
And the current reality is that the number of Mexicans apprehended by the Border Patrol has plummeted from a peak of 1.6 million in 2000 to about 193,000 in 2016, a near-historic low. Pew also found that the number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. illegally has declined by more than 1 million since 2007. More recently, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly touted a 40 percent drop in the number of illegal border crossings through Mexico this year.
And then there’s this nugget from Pew: The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. has not changed since 2009.
Facts can be inconvenient and I doubt politicians have those figures at their fingertips when they parachute in, donning body armor to ride speedboats down the Rio Grande, flanked by law enforcement officers brandishing high-powered rifles. Fleeting moments made for television campaign commercials.
The Texas border wall fences us in, corralling too a reality that’s as murky as the Rio Grande after a summer thundershower. For every Rio Grande Valley resident who has had it with illegal immigration — and there are many — you can find at least one other who says a border fence doesn’t make them feel any safer. Some fear an expanded wall will destroy communities, and that money for it would be better spent on motion sensors and technology.
As we all question whether an expanded wall will be efficient and useful, we should glean what we can from life in the shadow of the patchwork border fence in South Texas, and we should ask, “Is a wall worth the cost?”
President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are preparing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka, “Obamacare.” At this point they have not crafted a replacement. We’d like to hear from you about your personal experiences with the Affordable Care Act.
We believe your stories can help inform policymakers on this important topic.
You can submit your story as a Letter to the Editor using our online form or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (no more than 150 words , please). Don’t forget to include your full name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers.
Our goal is to publish a full page of those stories we receive. Your first-hand accounts will help foster understanding about how Central Texans are using or not using the Affordable Care Act and whether it should be refined, replaced or eliminated.
Unsurprisingly, criticism of President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States has been swift and harsh.
There’s enough in the ban to criticize: From the void of American values of defending the marginalized “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to the legally questionable practice of targeting and discrimination of a single religious group. It may be billed as a tool against terrorism, but the danger in its text serves more as a fan to inflame radical-Islamic enemies.
Critics – as well as thousands of protestors across the country, including here in Austin – aren’t standing idly by.
And then points out that the “breathtaking in scope and inflammatory in tone” order issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less, lacks any logic. “It invokes the attacks of Sept. 11 as a rationale, while exempting the countries of origin of all the hijackers who carried out that plot and also, perhaps not coincidentally, several countries where the Trump family does business.”
Civil rights activist and Baptist preacher Jesse Jackson makes similar comments and adds that Trump’s policy will make it more dangerous for American Muslims here in the U.S. while it also makes for excellent ISIS recruitment material.
“The real problem is that the unintended consequences are likely to be far more dangerous than doing nothing. For ISIS and al-Qaida, the order is a gift. It feeds their argument that the Muslim world is facing a war on Islam led by the Great Satan (the U.S.) intent on persecuting Muslims.
“The anger and hatred generated will make it more difficult for moderate Muslim leaders to cooperate with the U.S. At home, a Muslim community under siege — and faced with rising hate crimes — is likely to become more closed, not less, and less cooperative, not more. If we will not respect their rights and security, they will be less likely to be concerned for ours,” Jackson wrote.
“Why is this kind of outrage seemingly now just limited to Donald Trump?”
He says, for example, “The Los Angeles Times featured a story on Sunday about Alexander Gutierrez Garcia, who fled an oppressive dictatorship to seek refugee status in the United States, but unfortunately for him America’s president issued an executive order that denied him entry.
“That order came from President Barack Obama.”
Hunter continues: “So many of those outraged right now — and rightly — generally liked Obama. They trusted him. Now, similarly, Trump supporters will defend this president’s actions, no matter how much harm he causes, because they like and trust him too.
“But shouldn’t other people’s pain come before partisanship? …Shouldn’t lending our moral support or outrage be based on something more than merely what presidents we like?”
Plenty of others have and will weigh in on the issue. And no doubt, some of those opinions will make it onto our Viewpoint pages. But right now, we want to know what YOU think of all of this by taking our single-question poll (above and below).
Texans, Latinos, and yes, Latino Texans. They were every bit present during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Their numbers may not have been large, but they made strong appearances, leaving memorable remarks.
DNC had 133 speakers of which 43 percent were women and 44 percent were nonwhite, according to the LA Times. Meanwhile, the RNC had a total of 71 speakers, of which 35 percent were women and 20 percent were nonwhite.
So how many were Texan? Latino? And Texan Latino?
LA Times said six Latinos spoke at the RNC and I found more than 20 took the stage at the DNC. From Austinite Robert Rodriguez (in video above) to Ted Cruz, Latino Texans made for some of the most unforgettable appearances at both conventions.
And while the Los Angeles Times did not have a count of speakers from the Lone Star State, at least five spoke at the DNC and three at the RNC.
There’s no surprise to find the lists lopsided in Latino and minority representation. One need only look to the party platforms to see why. The parties differ on everything from health insurance coverage to college education with most Latinos favoring the Democratic positions. But perhaps the most stark difference is on immigration in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls for the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and the building of a wall stretching nearly the length of the southern border between Mexico. Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ candidate, calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
So, who exactly showed up at the conventions? Here’s a list — and links to some of the speeches:
AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION:
From Texas to the DNC:
U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (Houston) | Speech
The attack on police in Dallas has left many speechless and fearful. Others, however, are putting voice to our worries and fears. Here is a sampling:
“There are problems that our society has no idea how to fix — and the issues of race and policing are fall in that category. Body cameras help; better training helps; community policing helps; but these are not complete solutions. Ridding ourselves of these senseless shootings requires a degree of honesty about cultural bias, white privilege and perceptions about black and brown people that I’m not confident our society can muster. And as long as the immediate — and human — instinct is to draw a weapon in the face of fear, it is inevitable that an officer will eventually shoot to kill without cause.” — Tara Doolittle, Viewpoints editor
“(Dallas) Mayor Mike Rawlings’ assessment was tragically correct: ‘Our worst nightmare happened.’
Now we must wake up and unite. If we lead with anger, nobody wins.” — Dallas Morning News Editorial Board
“Because it’s what the heart demands when it aches, we tend to search for brightness among unimaginable darkness. Sometimes the darkness is so dark the search is unimaginably difficult.” — Ken Herman, American-Statesman columnist
“Yes, the good guys need our support. And I, for one, still believe in good guys. They are the ones who ran toward the gunfire, who scrambled to get innocents out of the way, who stood in salute of fallen brethren outside the Parkland Hospital ER. They are the only thing standing between us and the cowards who attack from comfortable perches on a peaceful Dallas street.” — Lisa Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle columnist
“Dallas knows what comes next. People will talk about guns, and hatred, and race, and Texas. Everyone will have a hero, and a villain, and a solution, and a way to blame some political opponent. And none of that will mean anything at all. Because what happened Thursday night in Dallas will leave us with no easy solutions — just nightmares to haunt us for years after a bloodthirsty ambush attack on police officers of all colors who were guarding peaceful protesters of all colors.” — Bud Kennedy, Ft. Worth Star Telegram columnist
“This horrendous attack on the police and the two killings this week demand sober reflection by the nation’s political and law enforcement leadership….with killings happening in cities, suburbs and rural communities, there needs to be leadership in every police department in the country that insists on cultural and attitudinal change. Credible civilian oversight of the police has to be a factor if community trust is ever to be restored. The latest ghastly images show how much has not been done, two years after Ferguson.” — New York Times Editorial Board
“Brown commands more than 3,500 sworn officers, who patrol Dallas’ 1.3 million residents spread over 385 square miles. He knows, day after day, that his department is one gunshot, one overreaction, one dubious decision from becoming the next national story.
And even when they don’t, when they do their very dangerous jobs with skill and professionalism, when they run toward the gunfire to keep the rest of us safe, it might not matter. It didn’t Thursday night. And that’s the world we now live in.” — Mike Hashimoto, Dallas Morning News editorial writer
I was an Alexander Hamilton man well before hip hop discovered the founding father and turned him into a pop cultural, Broadway phenomenon and, as of this week, the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. So count me among those who were relieved by the news that Hamilton’s staying on the $10 bill.
Though he’ll eventually have company. The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it would add Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Sojourner Truth to the $10 bill’s flip side as part of a redesign due in 2020. The same approach would apply to a redesigned $5 bill: Abraham Lincoln stays on the front, with Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. added to the back.
The big news, of course, was the decision to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with Harriet Tubman. Not so many decades ago, Jackson was seen as the champion of the common man and democracy. Today, Jackson is rightly reviled for his Indian removal policy — a policy that was put into force by Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren, under whom the “Trail of Tears” was marched. (A Texas side note: David Crockett, then a member of Congress from Tennessee, was a harsh critic of the Indian Removal Bill signed by Jackson. His split with Jackson over the issue would play a role in his eventual presence at the Alamo.)
As has been widely noted, adding Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill helps expand our view of who we are as a nation. Tubman is famous for leading hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, but among the many other things I’m guessing most of us didn’t know about Tubman until this week: She also served with the U.S. Army during the Civil War as a scout and a spy and was buried with military honors in Auburn, N.Y., when she died in 1913.
Back to Hamilton:
Yes, yes, I know he was a philandering jerk and a friend of the 1 percent of his time — and, yes, his idiotic decision to fight a duel with Aaron Burr left him, well, a dead idiot. But Hamilton’s “immigrant comin’ up from the bottom” story is as classic a biography of a self-made American as Benjamin Franklin’s and his role in creating the Constitution and the formation of the early federal government and American economy was profound. And unlike many other founders — looking at you, Thomas Jefferson — Hamilton actually fought in the Revolutionary War.
Where I find Hamilton most interesting and challenging is in the Federalist Papers, that series of 85 essays he, James Madison and John Jay wrote in 1787-88 to explain the Constitution and argue for its ratification. (Hamilton contributed about two-thirds of the essays; most of the rest were written by Madison.) Part of the ratification debate was a debate about a bill of rights, which the Constitution lacked, and which its opponents insisted it must have. Hamilton, in the 84th of the Federalist Papers, argues against a bill of rights. Because the Constitution is “founded upon the power of the people,” he writes, there aren’t any rights for the people to reserve for themselves that they don’t already possess. Hamilton thought a bill of rights not only unnecessary but also potentially dangerous because listing what the government could not do gave it a reasonable pretext to claim any power not listed for itself. Similarly, specifying certain individual rights diminished or negated other individual rights not specified.
Which is why we have the Ninth Amendment, added by Madison as a concession to Hamilton’s argument. The Ninth Amendment tells us the Bill of Rights is an incomplete list of rights — that many other rights also exist — and the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not meant “to deny or disparage” the other rights we possess.
What are those other rights? Well, that’s the question. Unfortunately, the courts historically have left the Ninth Amendment to lie “inertly in the Constitution, a joker that has never been played,” as Stanford University historian Jack Rakove once wrote. To begin to change that, and in honor of Hamilton’s newly secure presence on the $10 bill, and in honor of the other Americans who fought to expand our rights who are now destined to appear on our redesigned paper currency, I hereby announce the informal formation of the Ninth Amendment Promotion Society, or NAPS.
OK, we’ll work on the name. Meantime, there’s a whole mess of rights out there waiting to be discovered. Let’s go find ’em.
On Monday, as President Barack Obama approaches the end of his second term, Supreme Court justices heard another round of United States v. Texas, a case that began after Obama issued executive orders in 2014 that would allow millions of undocumented workers to avoid deportation.
The president’s efforts would provide a modicum of immigration reform by protecting from deportation as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants. Local government and business leaders across the country support the questioned immigration programs — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which targets the nearly 4.3 million undocumented parents of citizens and lawful residents, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an initiative aimed at non-citizens who came to the country as children. Among those who back the programs are county judges from Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio, who recently released a joint statement of support.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court isn’t where this matter will and should be settled.
Immigration policy is the responsibility of Congress, even if it refuses to accept that responsibility. Then, there’s the matter, as was pointed out by the Editorial Board earlier this week, of a court ruling acting only as a temporary band-aid.
“A decision in June would arrive a few weeks before Republicans and Democrats hold their nominating conventions in mid- and late July. A 4-4 tie — a possibility after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February — would let stand the lower court rulings and would block Obama’s programs from taking effect.
Even a favorable ruling may not matter much, not with Obama’s time in office winding down. His policy will live or die with the next president.”
It’s an absolute shame. While our nation’s leaders squabble over legal and technical points, millions of families who have made this country home will continue to be threatened of being separated by deportation.
The ideal scenario would be to have the Obama Administration work with Congress for progressive reform that benefits the millions of immigrants who are already positively contributing to this country. That, unfortunately, is not likely to happen anytime soon.
What’s needed is aside from political courage from Congress is unwavering support and pressure from leaders across the country; much like the support several county judges expressed in a joint statement earlier this week.
The following is the statement:
Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio Say “Yes” to DAPA and DACA
As the County Judges of Bexar, Dallas, El Paso and Travis Counties, we represent 6.5 million Texans. The County Judge is the highest elected county official in Texas, and we are responsible for the health, public safety, economic development, and vitality of our respective counties. We speak with one voice when we all say that the President’s immigration executive action,Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), will benefit our counties’ public safety, economic growth, and humanitarian interests. A court order has so far blocked DAPA and DACA from being implemented, but on Monday, April 18, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case.
DAPA would provide the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents with a temporary respite from deportation and permission to work. Expanded DACA would allow immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to also live and work temporarily in the U.S. These policies would allow long-term, law-abiding residents to step out of the shadows, live their lives, and contribute to their communities without fear of being separated from their U.S. citizen family members.
Our counties prosper when immigrant residents are integrated into urban life. Studies estimate that state and local revenues in Texas would increase by $59 million per year with DAPA and expanded DACA. Other research estimates that family income would see a 10% raise when one parent receives DAPA. Our experience demonstrates that community safety is enhanced when residents are not afraid to seek help from police. DAPA and DACA would empower our residents to cooperate with law enforcement. DAPA and DACA would also promote stable families and prevent the social, economic, and psychological harm U.S. citizen children face when their parents are deported.
Of course these programs are controversial, but we believe it’s in the best interest of our communities for DAPA and expanded DACA to be implemented until Congress chooses to act. We hope the Supreme Court will weigh these concerns carefully as it analyzes the President’s immigration action.
Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County
Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County
Judge Veronica Escobar, El Paso County
Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County