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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Immigration reform is rooted in Texas views, pollsters conclude

Dallas Morning News
By Alfredo Corchado
September 12, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Bipartisan Policy Center says results of a survey to be released Friday support the view that Texas and its historic, pragmatic views on immigration are key to pushing for future reform.

As the national debate over immigration rages on, conservative-leaning Texas is seen as an important bellwether state given its growing diversity, 1,000-mile border with Mexico and closeness to hot button topics ranging from sanctuary cities, the border wall, DACA to the separation of families entering the U.S. And those issues are complicated by a growing economy dependent on its immigrant labor force.

The Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center think tank said results from the nationwide survey, conducted in conjunction with Southern Methodist University, show that, overall, Texans share an underlying belief – 68.8 percent – that “immigrants are an essential part of American society,” particularly when newcomers are willing to demonstrate a commitment to learning English, and being law-abiding citizens.

“Texans are welcoming to immigrants and they want them to be law abiding, hardworking and assimilating, integrating into society,” said Theresa Cardenal Brown, director of immigration and cross border initiatives at the center. “Texans believe it can be done and they believe it can happen.”

When asked what concerns Americans more when it comes to immigration, 47 percent of national respondents said the “lack of control over the people we are allowing in.” For Texas, that number rose to 54 percent.

And yet, the vast majority of Texans, 64 percent vs. 52 for national respondents, believe immigration reform is possible within the next five years.

The poll, conducted in April, surveyed 1,004 likely voters nationwide, 39 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican and 24 percent independent. Southern Methodist University’s Mission Food Texas-Mexico Center paid for an oversample of 634 Texans – 43 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, and 24 percent independent – in an effort to “get a better picture of the views of our community because of the importance of Texas in the national immigration debate,” explained Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the center.

The poll has an overall margin of error of 3.1 percent and was conducted by Luntz Global, polling firm of longtime Republican political strategist Frank Luntz, a frequent commentator on Fox News. Luntz has been criticized in the past of crafting a specific vocabulary in surveys to win a desired effect for clients.

“All pollsters have a reputation, but the heart of survey research are the questions, and we had input and review to ensure they weren’t leading or suggestive,” said del Rosal. “One of the big takeaways we took is how most Americans, particularly Texans, are not against immigration or immigrants but more so against a system they don’t understand, don’t perceive as fair or don’t believe the government has a handle on it… The goal of the poll was to try and determine how Texas is like the rest of the country; in some cases more or less accepting of immigration.”

When looking at what traits Americans should prioritize in immigrants, 48 percent of national respondents, vs. 57 percent of Texans, said ‘law abiding’ should be a priority. Additionally, 45 percent of Texans, vs. 41 percent of national respondents, said immigrants should be integrating into society and learning English.

“I think the message is Texas is a welcoming state, but Texans hold newcomers accountable,” said Pia Orrenius, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and expert on U.S.-Mexico migration. “Texans expect you to be law abiding, work hard and take care of your family. Show respect and commitment to your new home and learn English.”

The survey also appears to underscore Texas’ historic, independent, sometimes peculiar, views on immigration. The state isn’t so much considered progressive like California, which, among other factors, allows unauthorized immigrant lawyers – DACA recipients – to practice law, said historian Neil Foley, co-director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at SMU and author of Mexicans in the Making of America.

Texas is downright pragmatic, and in many ways like the rest of the country, “bipolar and schizophrenic,” on matters of immigration, Foley added. “That’s been the history of this nation and in many ways, the story of Texas.”

In the 1950s, for example, Mexican workers worked so hard and were so loyal that employers and ranchers fought tooth and nail to keep them in the country, winning an exemption from a U.S. law that allowed them to hire undocumented workers as long as they weren’t harboring them, Foley said. That later led to the H-2A visa program, which enabled laborers, the vast majority Mexican, to enter the U.S. for temporary work.

“Capitalism isn’t about skin color, but about the bottom line,” Foley said. “You do what you need to do to make your business thrive. It’s heartening news that Texans understand that if you shut down immigration in Texas, the Texas economic engine will slow down and you can’t have that. So, you have tough talking politicians and behind the scene you have accommodations being made between politicians and business leaders to make sure Texas doesn’t lose its economic edge.”

The survey found that Texans still overwhelmingly support temporary worker programs, something that del Rosal said is “an option and one that many economists have proposed as a feasible possibility, a middle ground to resolve the immigration stand still.”

The Texas labor market is so tight that construction wages have gone up an average of 9 percent over the past few years, Orrenius said, underscoring the need for a “flexible labor force to feed into the demand.”

She said the poll can be a useful tool “because it combines the economic justification for immigration by telling the Texas economic success story about the contributions of immigrants in a state where individuals are held accountable. This is not a welfare state. No one gets anything for free. With a story like that you can win over the American public.”

Or as Brown added, “Texas provides a set for policy options for lawmakers to get the rest of the country on board.”

On Friday at SMU, full results of the survey will be released and a discussion of the findings will take place at noon at the Meadows Museum on campus.

For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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