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June 16, 2011
In Texas, lawmakers lectured by open-borders activist...in SPANISH!
In Texas, a Republican lawmaker has run afoul of the political correctness police. They're calling him ignorant and intolerant, after he bluntly criticized an open-border's activist opposed to legislation outlawing sanctuary cities.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called passage of the bill a top priority. It would outlaw cities like Austin, the capital, from establishing themselves as sanctuary cities. In Austin, police are prevented from asking suspects about their immigration status -- even if they have reason to believe the person is, say, an illegal immigrant from Mexico or Central America. The bill has passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House.
On Monday, lawmakers heard from Antolin Aguirre, an opponent of the bill who is a member of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Aguirre has been in America for 23 years, and became a naturalized citizen in 2001 - and yet he addressed Texas lawmakers in Spanish.
"We are 100 percent opposed to SB 9, which impacts our families and our communities," Aguirre said during a brief statement to members of the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. As he spoke, a Spanish interpreter translated his remarks into English.
Hearing the committee addressed in Spanish was too much for Sen. Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, who --as the Statesman reported -- asked the interpreter to clarify one of Aguirre's remarks.
"Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?" he said.
"Yes, sir, that's correct," Aguirre replied in English.
"Why aren't you speaking in English then? Twenty-three years. You've been here for 23 years?"
Aguirre explained that Spanish is his "first language and since it is his first time giving testimony he would rather do it in Spanish."
Harris' remarks have outraged the liberal editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman. An editorial, "Curb the intolerance, por favor," said that Aguirre's reason for speaking Spanish "seems reasonable to us." Besides lambasting Harris for his "intolerance and ignorance," the paper said he was "un-Texan."
Harris, for his part, told Aguirre and others that being addressed in Spanish in the Senate "is insulting to us. It is very insulting. And if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English."
Perhaps Harris could have been more diplomatic; yet he was on target in expressing the frustration that many Texas feel over what's happened in their state -- the establishment of Spanish-speaking enclaves by immigrants who appear to have little love for America's culture, language, and traditions.
In his famous essay in Foreign Policy magazine, "The Hispanic Challenge," Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington put it this way:
If anybody doubts that, they need to visit Austin, where such large Hispanic enclaves are common. Mexican flags even fly in some parts of the city.
The Statesman's editorial also took aim at Tea Party member Rebecca Forest, co-founder of Women on the Wall which wants to see immigration laws enforced.
While at the state Capitol, Forest -- according to the Statesman -- showed her intolerance and ignorance when she identified a major obstacle to immigration enforcement -- Hispanic lawmakers.
"If you want to know why we can't pass legislation in Texas it's because we have 37, no 36, Hispanics in the Legislature," she said. "So that's part of the problem, and we need to change those numbers. We need to do something about it."
She went onto suggest that these lawmakers were to tied up with identity politics; and that their main allegiance is to their ethnic roots.
Perhaps Forest was misquoted or perhaps she needs to be more careful in her comments. In fact, a handful of Hispanic lawmakers in the Texas legislature are Republicans -- and in the past they have taken decidedly different positions than Hispanic Democrats on immigration and other hot-button issues. It took political courage. One example was their support earlier this year of legislation requiring voter ID to ensure integrity at the ballot box.
And then there's Rep. Larry Gonzales, a Republican from Round Rock who supports the sanctuary cities bill. Recently, he brushed aside claims from Democrats and ethnic lobbies that it will encourage profiling.
"Racial profiling is illegal in Texas and has been illegal since 2001. This bill does nothing to change that," said Gonzalez, legislative director of Hispanic Republican Conference. "Racial profiling is illegal in Texas and will remain illegal once this bill passes."
Explaining the rationale for the House's passage of the sanctuary cities bill, he said it "provides for the implementation of a consistent standard across the state in setting illegal immigration policies. This bill will be the core of a renewed spirit of cooperation and trust between law enforcement and the citizens of Texas."
Expect lots more fireworks when Texas passes landmark legislation aimed at shutting down the state's sanctuary cities.
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