Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Texas takes the stage

On Monday, the El Paso (TX) County Commissioners passed a remarkably sensible Resolution on Immigration Reform. While it is largely symbolic, the resolution does express opposition to local law enforcement being involved in enforcing immigration law.

Among the many noteworthy points, the resolution covers the following:
- State resources should not be diverted to support policies and initiatives that tolerate or result in racial profiling in our communities.
- Erecting a wall would be a waste of money. The federal government should instead invest in secure, fast, and smart technology to allow fast movement of people and products.
- Support for a temporary worker program with the possibility for low-skilled immigrant workers to obtain a permanent residence status.
- Support fair and comprehensive immigration legislation that balances border security concerns with recognition of the U.S. demand for workers.
- Local law enforcement should not be given the powers to stop, interrogate, detain or otherwise participate in immigration enforcement activities.
- Path to citizenship, to immigrants who have paid taxes, and parented citizen children and grandchildren.
- Larger number of employment and family-based green cards to promote family unification, reduce backlogs in application processing, and that demands sensitive quotas.
- Look at technology solutions that offer low-cost alternatives to the interdiction efforts of local law enforcement that lead inevitably to racial profiling.
- Reject any action by civilians - individual or groups - who interfere with the duties of United States law enforcement officials in securing the border region.
- Reject legislation that criminalizes immigrants, their families, and the organizations that provide assistance to them
[Click here for the full text of the resolution.]

The El Paso Times called the measure "looking-good chest beating -- but more righteous pomp than anything else". Maybe so, but it's encouraging that there is a government entity, particulary a local government ALONG THE BORDER, that truly understands the complexity of the issue and respects the HUMAN rights of immigrants. Let's hope Washington can hear El Paso above the din.

A few days before, on the other side of the state in Austin, the Border Governors Conference issued a strongly worded letter to Washington calling on Congress to take action. Interestingly, they refer to the series of Congressional hearings as "[doing] little more than stir the pot of discontent." Texas governor Rick Perry summed up the letter for the Austin Statesman:"We're just saying, 'Do the job, and get it done in a timely fashion." Their letter carries as little force as El Paso's resolution. It is worth noting that each of the four governors of states along the Mexican border are up for reelection in November. Like the California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, they are all hoping that looking tough pays off.

ACTION STEP: Call the El Paso County Commissioners (915.546.2000) and thank them for their sensible resolution and national leadership on the issue of immigration reform.

To highlight this example of positive solutions to immigration refrom, send a copy of the El Paso Resolution to the California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Texas Governor Rick Perry and tell them that El Paso has demonstrated true leadership on the issue.