This just in from the campaign of Hank Gilbert for Texas Agricultural Commissioner.
TYLER-Hank Gilbert, the Texas Democratic Party’s nominee for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, noted Wednesday that an Arizona-style immigration law requiring that law enforcement verify the citizenship of potentially undocumented individuals-even on routine traffic stops-would have disastrous consequences for Texas agriculture and seriously overburden local government.
“If you want to talk about driving up food costs, slashing tax revenues, and damaging our economy, then Leo Berman’s bill is exactly what you want,” Gilbert said. “I cannot imagine someone proposing something so irresponsible or damaging to Texas agriculture,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert noted that labor costs for some Texas agricultural products were already as high as $26.51 per acre and that Texas farmers could not sustain the massive labor cost increases that would come with laws such as those proposed by Berman.
“The fact of the matter is this: undocumented immigrants make up a significant segment of the agricultural labor force in Texas. These men and women help Texas grow food not just for our state, but for the rest of the nation. If you take away their ability to move freely within our society and survive without being under constant threat of police action, they will go somewhere else for jobs,” Gilbert said.
“Now, I know that’s probably what Representative Berman wants-he’d rather undocumented individuals go to Oklahoma or Louisiana to work. But the fact is that we have a vital ag industry in Texas, and we have work for people who come to Texas from Latin America and Mexico,” Gilbert continued.
“While it may be good Republican politics to scream and shout about illegal immigration, it is both bad economics and tantamount to racial profiling,” Gilbert said. “I personally do not want to live in a state where Hispanic Americans are constantly stopped and asked for their ‘papers.’ It is reminiscent of living in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union where identity papers were required at all times. Texas doesn’t need that,” he said. “Human beings from south of our border who are coming and working in Texas-who contribute more in tax revenue than they cost the state in services -deserve some dignity. It is not the responsibility of the state to enforce or enact Federal immigration laws,” Gilbert said.
In addition, Gilbert noted that forcing local government entities such as police departments, sheriffs’ departments, and county jails to check immigration status and detain undocumented individuals would cost significant sums of money annually that would have to be raised from additional taxes.
“At the end of the day,” Gilbert said,” It’s exactly the thing you’d want to do if you want to cause long-term damage to the economy in Texas.”