Texas lawmakers, business leaders and civil rights officials joined several states Wednesday in a new campaign to push back against immigration policies and rhetoric that they say support an anti-Latino agenda in the U.S.
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus joined the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs in announcing the “Not in My State” campaign, an effort to push back against Texas’ new law banning so-called “sanctuary cities,” also known as Senate Bill 4. The group also opposes President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind an executive order that protects from deportation immigrants who entered the country illegally as minors and related immigration policies. Officials in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maryland and Rhode Island are also part of the campaign.
Trump, who ran on building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, had wrestled with how to move forward with Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before making a decision. By rescinding the order and allowing the move to take effect after six months, he gave Congress a chance to come up with a legislative way of dealing with the issue.
Advocates say such policies would strictly enforce immigration laws, increase public safety and open up jobs for people who are in the country legally. Opponents say these new laws and shifts in policy target Latinos, destroy families and harm the economy.
The anti-sanctuary city law, which a federal judge has mostly halted, will strike fear in immigrant communities and on college campuses, undermine the state’s economy and discourage businesses from moving to Texas, said state Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, vice chairwoman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
“Imagine this: a woman who is assaulted needs to call law enforcement but no longer feels safe because law enforcement, through SB 4, and other rhetoric that the Texas Legislature is promoting, discourages her to do what needs to be done,” González said.
The hundreds of thousands of people who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program generate $24.6 billion a year in Social Security and Medicare dollars, and add $460.3 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, said Mario Flores, an attorney and member of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
“Latino-owned businesses have had the most significant economic impact on our community since the Baby Boomers,” Flores added. “By passing SB 4 and legislation that affects all Latinos, that impact is surely going to affect our abilities to generate money.”
Officials are also using the campaign to push back against anti-Latino rhetoric.
“Elections have consequences,” said Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin. “The president of the United States called people like me and my ancestors who came here to work on the railroads in Chicago murderers and rapists. That has set the tone for the most divisive time in our nation’s history … We’re done. We’ve had enough. We can’t accept this anymore.”