You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Commentary: On immigration, state is hurting local communities


In Texas, we have a long tradition of looking out for one another. We all have a role to play in building our community’s well-being. Texans place a high priority on being practical. We roll up our sleeves and figure out how to handle a challenge in the most sensible way. We have a strong moral compass and understand that all people deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

We are leaders of community agencies that work closely with Travis County residents at every stage of life. We live these values — and see others living them — each day. Right now, our state policymakers are seriously weakening the foundation of the well-being of real people in Travis County and across the state. These children, adults, and older people are being punished because of the state’s misunderstanding of policy.

At issue is whether the state government will dictate local law enforcement priorities by tying eligibility for state and federal funds to the jurisdiction’s approach to immigrants in local communities. Our local law enforcement entities, like those in many other cities and counties across the state and the nation, have adopted practical policies that help them stay focused on their responsibility to local public safety.

Law enforcement knows that good relationships and focusing on “people as people” are good for public safety. We are all better off when our neighbors in immigrant communities feel safe talking to police. Witnesses and victims of crime need to feel safe coming to law enforcement for help.

The Travis County sheriff’s office has always complied with state and federal law in communicating information related to immigration to federal agencies. However, the sheriff’s office staff does not focus on immigration status or use county facilities or scarce funds to voluntarily detain people for their immigration status on behalf of federal agencies for most nonserious crimes. To do so would be a poor use of local resources.

In response to this local action, Texas cut $1.5 million in funding for Travis County. Additional cuts are being proposed by the Texas Senate in Senate Bill 4, which could result in additional $8.2 million cuts of state and federal pass-through funding to Travis County. These cuts directly impact the ability of our human service agencies to do their jobs and support the well-being of veterans, people with mental illness and other community members.

Travis County’s strong nonprofit sector helps ensure that children have opportunities to learn and play; that adults can learn new skills after layoffs; and that older adults can contribute to our communities in meaningful ways.

For example, when we work with veterans to find affordable housing, transition into civilian careers and get the health care they need, we all benefit from their participation in our communities. Without this support, they’re more likely to experience physical and mental health problems — and end up in the emergency room. This costs more – and it also places unnecessary stress on our emergency care system.

Despite our differences, all Texans can agree that our state is stronger when our leaders focus on taking reasonable steps toward sensible solutions. It doesn’t make sense for the state government to make decisions that will weaken our communities, increase our costs for public health and safety, and reduce our ability to be respond to problems.

We encourage Texas policymakers to work with the federal government to adjust our nation’s immigration policies and find the best way to embrace the energy and talents of people who come to Texas from other parts of the world. That’s a complex issue that demands thoughtful solutions. In the meantime, the state government has a responsibility to protect the well-being of Texans.

Please contact your legislative representatives and urge them to develop pragmatic solutions to immigration that keep us all moving forward as a nation instead of adopting measures that are detrimental to the health and well-being of our communities.

Touza-Medina is executive director of YWCA Greater Austin and chair of Immigrant Services Network of Austin. Rutledge is executive director of the Sustainable Food Center and chair of One Voice Central Texas.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Herman: GOP, in charge now, faces perilous future
Herman: GOP, in charge now, faces perilous future

Not long ago I had the eye-opening opportunity to hear a presentation here in Austin from Robert P. Jones, the CEO of the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute and author of a 2016 book about something about which we’re all familiar. Yes, it’s hard to offer something eye opening about something about which we’re all...
Commentary: The Republicans who took on Richard Nixon
Commentary: The Republicans who took on Richard Nixon

“Well, he better start fighting for me or he’s gonna be out! I want him to do right, but he must not cut the president!” That was Richard Nixon, caught on tape shouting about his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, who had just insisted on his independence during the Watergate investigation. Nixon’s ire was prescient &mdash...
Letters to the Editor: May 24, 2017
Letters to the Editor: May 24, 2017

Re: May 5 commentary, “Why Cinco de Mayo has new meaning in today’s America.” Good commentary from Morán González on Mexican-Americans’ resolve to fight against racial discrimination in Texas. He mentioned the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and said that the group’s U.S. citizenship requirement...
David Brooks: The alienated mind
David Brooks: The alienated mind

The campaign of 2016 was an education in the deep problems facing the country. Angry voters made a few things abundantly clear: that modern democratic capitalism is not working for them; that basic institutions like the family and communities are falling apart; that we have a college educated elite that has found ingenious ways to make everybody else...
John Young: ‘Deep Throats’ lined up for a city block
John Young: ‘Deep Throats’ lined up for a city block

Newly elevated, helium-inflated, a president for a bare blink of an eye, Donald Trump chose as one of his first presidential acts a declaration of war on the press. So, how’s that going? Trump called reporters “the enemies of the people.” Henchman Steve Bannon called the media “the opposition party.” Interesting claim...
More Stories