Texas Immigration Bill Likely to do More Harm Than Good


In the wake of no small amount of political rhetoric regarding immigration in America, Texas lawmakers have passed a bill called SB4, which is terrifyingly invasive for many of the citizens of the state. Basically, if you correctly pronounce the word 'taco' around a cop, he might mistake you for a bad hombre, whip around, and ask you for your papers. It gives police the freedom to interrogate anyone whom they suspect may be here illegally, and force them to produce proof of their lawful status on the spot.

One of the many problems with a bill like this is that it's likely to be economically devastating to cities and states with large populations of immigrants, both documented and undocumented alike. Just in case you're sitting there with a mouthful of a chew and an ugly ass red hat, chanting “Build that wall!” I'll give you some numbers that mete out my point.

According to a 2016 article from the Center for American Progress, “Immigrants make up about 28 percent of small-business owners and are two times more likely to become entrepreneurs than the native-born population. In 2010, immigrant-founded small businesses generated more than $775 billion in sales and $100 billion in income and paid more than $126 billion in payroll taxes. On average, immigrant-owned small businesses each employ about eight employees and collectively provide jobs for about 4 million people in the United States.”

So far, the number of jobs created during the Trump administration is somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000. It's also important to note that under no circumstances is any president directly responsible for all job growth that occurs during his term. In all fairness, Trump's recent decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord has cleared the way for other world powers to increase their reliance on renewable energy. China, for example, already has over 4 million people working in the fields of wind and solar energy, and is predicting a growth of 1.2 million jobs per year in those areas through 2020. With America bowing out of the way, Trump has created millions of jobs, just in a different country. So, if you're keeping score, that means that immigrants have created more jobs than the Trump administration, bigly.

In addition to severing the heels of the gross domestic product of the United States, bills like SB4 are sure to massively disrupt law and order in this country. If someone lives with the constant threat of deportation, they're far less likely to cooperate with law enforcement during criminal investigations. We're already seeing stories about ICE raids at courthouses, and mandating that everyone from cops to county clerks be on the lookout for any immigrants that may be undocumented will only serve to deepen the rift between the police and an already weary public who could hold the key to solving a case. Who in their right mind is gonna come forward with information about a crime when they could be the ones who are punished for existing on the wrong side of an invisible line? Your husband beat the shit out of you? Well, it's better than deportation! You know who's been holding up liquor stores in the area? Better keep quite so you won't be detained. Laws like this serve to handicap law enforcement as a whole, and shatter the already terminally frail relationship that they currently have with much of the populace.

It's important to note that cities with large immigrant populations have statistically lower crime rates than those with more dense native-born populations. This may be due, in part, to the desire of immigrants to maintain a 'low profile' for fear of being deported. In any case, their motivation for being lawful doesn't change this fact.

While SB4 may have the full support of Governor Greg Abbott and the state's trailer parks, long-time sanctuary cities throughout Texas are fighting back. The city of San Antonio has filed a lawsuit against the state and the governor, citing that this law is discriminatory and unconstitutional. That's the good news for the people who oppose this ridiculous and likely ineffective bill.

The bad news for the same group is that victory on a local level will push the measure up the ladder for further litigation. If it makes it to the Supreme Court, then there's a chance that SB4 could pass. While a similar bill in Arizona was struck down in the highest court a few years back, we have a very different balance in the Supreme Court today. Despite the fact that judges have a tendency to follow prior precedent when adjudicating matters of all kinds, nothing has been normal for the last couple of years. It used to be political suicide to openly mock disabled reporters, have a running mate who believes in gay conversion therapy, and have peaceful protesters dragged out of your rallies. Today, it gets you the presidency. Where just a couple of decades ago you could be impeached for lying about a beejer, you can now lie about the reason for firing the head of the FBI while he's investigating you, and still keep your weekend golf appointment. This double-handed titty-twist on American normalcy leaves nearly any prediction about the actions of the government based on precedent impossibly flaccid.

As a current resident of San Antonio, I assure you that Texas is as diverse as it is geographically enormous. It has a lot of major cities that range from wildly liberal to deeply conservative. In addition, Texas has a large expanse of border towns who are directly impacted by any and all immigration laws, as well as sanctuary cities throughout the state. Because of these factors, any prediction on where this bill is going would take an unhealthy percentage of guesswork. But I can tell you, it won't be calm or quite in any direction.

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