Congressman Bill Flores, representing the 17th District, hosted a fundraiser in San Antonio on June 21 where he was met by immigrant families, faith and community leaders demanding that the Congressman respond to their concerns regarding the forthcoming House immigration bill.
Congress is set to discuss a bipartisan bill that could legalize the status of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. However, it is still not clear that such legislation has the support needed to pass the House. Last week, dozens of community members, including undocumented immigrants, voiced their concerns at Congressman Flores’ fundraiser in the prestigious Club Giraud of San Antonio.
Congressman Flores recently outraged many Latino voters when he voted to repeal funding for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which helps give temporary relief to undocumented youth that were brought to the U.S. without papers by their parents.
“We need reform to stop families from suffering and being divided,” said Pastor Jim Rigby of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, in Flores’ district.
“Real leadership is needed to tackle immigration. I am here representing my congregation that is ready to act and mobilize for immigration reform, because it is family and moral issue,” Pastor Rigby added. “Flores doesn’t care about fixing our immigration problem, or doing what’s right for our state or students,” said Anayeli Marcos, an undocumented student at the University of Texas at Austin. “I don’t think he really cares about Texas, just getting reelected,” said Anayeli Marcos.
Immigration reform is particularly important for Texas, given that the state has the second largest undocumented population behind California. Texas is home to 15 percent of all undocumented immigrants – 7 percent of its total population. Many of Texas’ most important industries are highly dependent on undocumented labor, and nearly one in ten workers labor in the state without proper documentation.
“We are facing a crisis in Texas. If major changes aren’t made to our immigration policy soon, workers’ rights will continue to erode, and businesses in the state won’t be able to operate. Our whole economy could be threatened,” stated Cristina Tzintzún, Executive Director of Workers Defense Project (WDP).
Flores’ position on immigration offers little beyond existing policies that invest tax dollars heavily in enforcement efforts along the border, even though the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has stagnated in recent years and is not expected to increase. A recent study released by WDP shows that enforcement-only immigration policies – carried out against both workers and employers – have not been successful in reducing the number of immigrants present and working in the U.S.These failed policies hurt businesses and often force employers to choose between following the law and remaining competitive.
The Workers Defense Project is leading a statewide coalition with groups from El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and the Rio Grande Valley to advocate for a strong immigration reform proposal that benefits workers, families, and the Texas economy.