Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Immigration Tops Texas Lawmakers' Agendas

Texas lawmakers are ready to pounce on the illegal immigrant issue when they start their next session in January.With the Democrats in charge in Washington, conservatives in Texas plan to put their imprint on a variety of issues ranging from abortion to school vouchers.Their biggest push by far, however, will be passage of a host of bills dealing with illegal immigrants, including one that just might challenge the 14th Amendment, which defines citizenship and requires states to provide civil rights to anyone born on U.S. soil.In Austin, Republicans began are heading to the state Capitol with stacks of bills aimed at cutting off benefits to illegal aliens, taxing their remittances south of the border, and requiring proof of citizenship at the voting booth. Other bills would deny welfare and other benefits to the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens — rights allegedly given them under the 14th Amendment.John Colyandro, director of the Texas Conservative Coalition, expects a broad array of legislation targeting benefits to illegals, as well as voter verification of citizenship, employer sanctions for hiring illegal aliens, and additional funding for border security. He says the two extremes of the current immigration debate — deporting all illegals or granting amnesty to all — are "unworkable and frankly intolerable."Under the bill proposed by Republican state Rep. Leo Berman, of Tyler, children born in Texas to illegal aliens would be denied state unemployment or public assistance benefits like food stamps as well as professional licenses.Berman states that in Texas alone there are an estimated two million illegal aliens whose U.S.-born children get these benefits, which go largely un-reimbursed by the federal government.

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