~ Agrees to withdraw HB 351 from consideration ~
State Representative Rafael Anchia today announced the formation of a coalition of business and political leaders committed to turning back the onslaught of anti-immigrant legislation that is currently working its way through the Texas Legislature. The group has declared its intention to shift the debate to Washington, where, they say, any significant progress toward comprehensive immigration reform must originate.
The broad-based coalition includes the Texas Association of Business (TAB), the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC), the Texas Employers for Immigration Reform (TEIR), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The group is united in calling for Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick to work with them to defeat all immigrant-related bills before the Legislature this session.
"We want to stop this divisive and misguided legislation that has been introduced at the State level, but deals with issues that need to be resolved at the Federal level", said Representative Anchia.
State Representative Veronica Gonzales praised the broad-based nature of the coalition, "We're going to fight this divisive and unconstitutional anti-immigration legislation in three ways: legislatively, through our business communities, and through the legal system."
Bill Hammond, President of the TAB spoke of the role the business community intended to play in moving the immigration issue back to the national stage, " Unless and until the U.S. Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform, the TAB calls on the Texas Legislature to not pass any legislation dealing with immigration, especially in regard to legislation that could add burdens to employers."
Representative Anchia concurred, "The diverse makeup of this group is testament to the urgency of the issue. We've come together to urge the federal government to put through comprehensive immigration reform that puts willing employers together with willing workers in a legal program that will bring to the surface workers that are currently underground."
State Representative Pete Gallego, the President of MALC said, "We'd like to thank Rafael Anchia for his leadership in bringing this coalition together to defeat these anti-immigrant bills."
Among the anti-immigrant bills cited by the coalition are:
HB 28 filed by Representative Leo Berman of Tyler that would prohibit the U.S. citizen children of "illegal aliens" from receiving any state benefits, including health care, public education and public housing.
HB 904 filed by Representative Bill Zedler of Arlington last Friday that would prohibit cities from building or operating day labor facilities.
HB 29 filed by Representative Leo Berman of Tyler that would impose an 8% fee on money transfers to Mexico and Central and South America.
As a response to the anti-immigrant legislation, Anchia had previously filed HB 351, which would prohibit granting funds from the Governorí showcase business incentive initiative, the Texas Enterprise Fund, to a recipient that employs an undocumented worker.
"In a sign of cooperation and solidarity with this historic coalition, I will withdraw House Bill 351 from further consideration."
The coalition will hold a press conference to discuss the initiative in the Speaker's conference room in the Texas House immediately upon adjournment on Thursday, February 15.
Contact: Tim Dickey
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