Today at the University of St. Thomas, faith and community leaders held a panel discussion to discuss the urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform. Moreover, the target of the discussion was Congressman Ted Poe and other Texas delegation members.
Dr. Robert Ivany, President of the University of St. Thomas, spoke to our individual obligations as engaged citizens and the university’s obligation as a Catholic institution.
“Here in Houston, the lack of comprehensive immigration reform confronts us daily. We are honored to host this forum to address our duty as responsible citizens and as faithful Catholics who are committed to the fair and just treatment of our community.”
Scott Braddock, known for dynamic interviews with politicians and activists from across the political spectrum, moderated the discussion and urged the diverse set of panelists to describe the impact of America’s broken immigration system on Houston and the costs of Congress’ current inaction.
“A sensible immigration bill is vital for our city, state, and nation,” said Stan Marek, a leading figure in Houston’s business community and President and CEO of the Marek Family of Companies. “An estimated 2.1 million undocumented reside within our Texas borders and it’s time they were brought out of the shadows. Too many are working in low paying jobs and in a sense being held hostage because of their status. We need to demand now that our members in the House take seriously their obligation to pass a bill into the Conference Committee.”
Bringing to bear the teachings of their respective faith traditions, prominent pastors from diverse backgrounds echoed the call for comprehensive immigration reform and demanded an end to the exploitation of aspiring Americans.
“Every day, Houston pastors encounter children and young adults whose families have been torn apart by America’s failed immigration system,” said Senior Pastor Tim Moore of Walk Worthy Baptist Church. “We will not be silent while these anti-family policies wreak havoc in our communities. We urge Rep. Poe and fellow members of Texas’ Congressional delegation to examine the tenets of their faith and give us a vote on comprehensive immigration reform with an earned pathway to citizenship.”
Seeing firsthand the impact of Houston’s broken immigration system on local families and parishioners, Pastor Diane McGehee , Director of the Center for Missional Excellence at Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, said “We need Congress to pass immigration reform right now that protects immigrant families and workers, and includes a path to citizenship. The system we have right now is broken, hopelessly complex, and devastates hard working immigrants who come here to build a better life for themselves and their families. Even I, a licensed attorney, can’t navigate it without help and great expense. We can and must do better. How we treat our fellow human beings as made in the image of God is central to our faith as Christians.”
Bob Price, a well-known political commentator and blogger for TexasGOPVote, said “Immigration reform can no longer be ignored by our government. If we are to be a nation of laws, our laws must be just, and they must serve the needs of our people, our families and our communities. This is the right time for us to move forward on this issue and solve a problem that has been haunting us for many years.”
As the immigration reform movement continues to gain steam in Houston and across the United States, Members of Congress need to act now to reform our broken system. Eleven million aspiring American citizens must not be trapped in the shadows any longer, and immigrant families must be freed from the constant threat of being torn apart. The faith, business, labor and law enforcement communities stand united and will not rest until our neighbors, parishioners, customers, students, and friends are brought out of the shadows and given the opportunity to fully engage in America’s economy and democracy.
Given that Ted Poe has been under pressure from both sides of the issue after a FoxLatino.com article mentioned Poe had “softened” on the issue, perhaps even being open to supporting a path to citizenship, the Chron continued adding to the storyline with an article by Rob Paral.
A new analysis of immigration trends and demographic composition of U.S. House districts shows that many Republican congressional districts have emerging electorates that care deeply about immigration reform.
Many Republican representatives will see their constituency profiles evolve in the coming years. Asian and Latino youth and newly naturalized U.S. citizens will make up 34 percent of newly eligible voters in 55 Republican-held congressional districts.
Take for example Republican Rep. Ted Poe, of Texas’ 2nd Congressional District. The district, which includes parts of Houston and eastern and northern suburbs, is more than half white. But come time for the 2014 elections, nearly 51 percent of all the newly eligible voters in his district will be either recently naturalized immigrants or Asian or Latino youth who turned 18 before the election and will be eligible to cast a ballot.
The political realities of 2012 are hitting many Republicans in the face, as of late. While some on the “blue” side of things have been awaiting the demographic changes to come through to effect victories, Paral seems to think that once this occurs, the effects will not stop.
This is not a one-time event. The impact stretches across future election cycles and its influence grows over time.
Like I’ve stated, I’m not a fan of S.744 or the Border Militarization. Much of what is in the bill has been written to appease Republicans like Ted Poe and others who are beginning to see the realities of the future of Texas. Unfortunately, I’m thinking that the GOP is just too damn pig-headed to even support a bad bill like S.744 just for face-saving purposes.