OTHER OPINION: Legislature shifts gears on immigration

By Austin American Statesman

There is a shift in both the rhetoric and approach to immigration that is both noticeable and welcome this legislative session. Missing is the hyperbolic rhetoric that spewed out of the Capitol any time immigration, legal or otherwise, was mentioned.
Members were elbowing each other out of the way to file legislation that supposedly cracked down on illegal immigration but on closer examination proved nothing more than empty posturing.
The noise got so loud that the state’s business owners expressed concern. A bill filed by state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, proposing sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants grabbed the state’s business community by its lapels.
Bill Hammond, who leads the Texas Association of Business, spoke up in opposition. The bill didn’t go anywhere.
Remember that do-nothing but immensely popular sanctuary cities bill introduced during both the regular and special sessions in 2011?
Leo Berman, R-Tyler, sponsored the bill in the House. It passed during the regular session but died in the Senate. It was revived in the special session in the Senate but died in the House.
By the way, Berman lost his re-election bid to Matt Schaefer, an ally of House Speaker Joe Straus.
Berman’s departure left the post of chief immigrant basher open, but so far no one appears willing to claim it.
Both Democratic and Republican legislators are working on resolutions on immigration that recommend securing the borders but also include guest worker programs and even pathways to citizenship.
A realistic approach to immigration involves a variety of methods to encourage people to enter the country legally whether to work or to study.
Texans should be at the forefront of a search for positive solutions.
Nobody should expect total agreement on all aspects of the immigration issue, but it is heartening to see that differences can be addressed respectfully and positively.
Austin American Statesman