Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Immigration reform moves forward in the Senate and a discussion on the impact of immigration reform in Texas

The Senate immigration reform bill crafted by the "Gang of Eight" survived committee hearings mostly intact, with few amendments allowed to alter the carefully negotiated bill. Despite Senator Schumer's confidence that the bill will pass by July 4th, and Harry Reid's statements that the bill can avoid a filibuster, others, including Marco Rubio, are concerned that the bill doesn't have enough votes to make it to a floor vote.

Meanwhile, many Senators on both sides of the aisle are expressing concerns about the border security provisions in the bill and Texas' John Cornyn is preparing amendments to overhaul border security and other sections of the bill.
Zocalo Public Square is highlighting the issue of immigration reform in Texas today with a discussion online, and at Rice University on Thursday, June 6th:
Including my contribution:

Terri E. Givens

Following in California’s footsteps                

Immigration reform will have a significant impact on Texas politics in the long term. If the path to citizenship remains in the legislation, it could lead to large numbers of currently undocumented immigrants eventually becoming citizens. The current efforts of political organizers to mobilize the Latino vote in Texas will be critical, in order to develop a constituency which understands the power of the vote and can put forward viable candidates. Even without a path to citizenship, demographics in Texas are changing rapidly.

The changes which occurred in California politics in the late 1990s and early 2000s are instructive for Texas politicians. I lived in California at that time and saw the mobilization of the Latino vote after the passage of Prop. 187. As noted in a New York Times article from last summer the Republican Party in California holds no statewide offices. It's interesting to note that we have the opposite situation here in Texas, with Republicans holding all statewide offices. However, the Democratic party, in particular the new organization Battleground Texas, is pouring significant resources into the state in a bid to make Texas a swing state by the next decade. We have already seen some changes, as in the lack of harsh immigration control measures being put forward during this year's legislative session. It's clear that many politicians in Texas will have to pay attention to issues that are of concern to a changing constituency, and politicians like the Castro brothers from San Antonio may be harbingers of a new political order in the state.

Terri E. Givens is associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. More information at

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