Ag Commissioner, San Antonio Citizens Offer Border Solutions to Texas Senate
AUSTIN, TX- The message couldn't have been clearer at the Texas Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee meeting Thursday morning. In order to secure the border, the federal government must establish a system for a legalized alien workforce. Testimony noted HCR 88, introduced by Rep. John V. Garza (R- San Antonio), as a framework for a workable solution. The resolution calls on Congress to establish a guest worker system that would protect American workers from competition, but also allow non-citizen economic migrants to come out of the shadows, pay taxes and freely return to their country of origin.
“We need a new system to address the modern context of immigration,” Rep. Garza said. “A new system of immigration must respect our national sovereignty and our origins as a country of immigrants. It must provide for strict enforcement of the law, but also allow for needed labor in certain sectors of our economy. It must respect the human dignity of the immigrant, give them a means to share in the American dream and not discriminate simply due to country of origin.”
A new system of immigration should address the role U.S. employers play in drawing immigrants into the country. The reality is that certain sectors of the American economy rely on migrant workers for its labor force, and the 1986 amnesty showed what happens when this economic reality is ignored. Prior to amnesty, illegal workers were concentrated in certain sectors of the economy. Following amnesty, they moved into more desirable sectors of the economy. The resulting void was filled by subsequent waves of illegal immigrants. Addressing the issue of economic migrants will free up law enforcement resources to concentrate on criminals and border security.
"Until law enforcement is able to distinguish between those who are entering the United States to do us harm from those who wish to come here to work, our law officers will never have a fighting chance,” Alonzo Peña, a San Antonio resident and recently retired Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said.
State legislatures have been left to deal with the Federal government's failure to provide an effective system of immigration and border security. The proliferation of immigration related legislation last session was the direct result of the Federal government's unwillingness to address the immigration crisis. Some issues discussed before the Texas Legislature were human trafficking, employment verification, added strain on our healthcare and education system, election integrity and border security.
During the morning's testimony, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples cited a border security report commissioned by his office. The report documented the security threats Texas farmers and ranchers experience regularly. He said these threats must be taken seriously in Washington, and stated that a key part of the solution is providing the legal workers needed by many industries.
“The criminal elements have co-opted the human trafficking business and the two now are deeply intertwined,” Joseph Fitzsimons, a San Antonio oil and gas attorney who also owns a ranch seven miles from the Mexican border in Dimmit County, said. “Right now, when Border Patrol chases groups through the brush on our ranch, which they do daily, they don't know if they're chasing hotel and construction workers, or members of terrorist organizations. With a legal process, through which those who are coming here to work are documented, the only ones left in the brush would be those who have no business here.”
All enforcement efforts must respect the civil rights of U.S. Citizens and the U.S. Citizen children of immigrants. In America, children are never held liable for the unlawful actions of their parents. Additionally, immigrants who have cut in line and violated American immigration laws should not be given amnesty or preferential treatment over immigrants who have honestly complied with our immigration laws and waited for an opportunity to immigrate.
“Immigration is not a partisan issue- it is a people issue,” Rep. Garza said. “As an American and a descendent of immigrants, I believe that we must ensure that America remains a promised land. We need a new system of immigration to ensure national security, to protect our economy, to be a welcoming nation and to allow 12 million people in this country to come out of the shadows.”