Don't tell FrontBurner, because they'll think he's a racist, but Representative Rafael Anchia belongs to the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives. And last week, Anchia was named vice-chair of MALC's newly formed task force on immigration. Says a press release just sent out by Anchia's people, the task force was created because MALC insists there aren't enough South Texas representatives on the House State Affairs committee, which will likely deal with immigration legislation during the current session.
Says Anchia in the release: "Numerous anti-immigrant bills have been filed this session and we expect more. I firmly believe that this debate should take place at the federal level in order to achieve broad-based immigration reform. If the anti-immigrant legislation moves in the state legislature, however, we must take an aggressive position to counteract this divisive and misguided legislation."
The full release is after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky
ANCHIA NAMED IMMIGRATION TASK FORCE VICE-CHAIR Mexican American Legislative Caucus forms Task Force to focus on immigration issues
Last Wednesday, January 31, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) of the Texas House of Representatives formed a task force on immigration and named state Representative Veronica Gonzalez, D-McAllen, its chair, and Representative Rafael Anchia D-Dallas, its Vice-Chair.
The task force was organized in conjunction with the release of a statement from MALC citing the lack of representation by South Texas representatives on the House State Affairs committee—a committee that is expected to deal with most of the immigration legislation introduced this session.
According to Rep. Anchia, "Numerous anti-immigrant bills have been filed this session and we expect more. I firmly believe that this debate should take place at the federal level in order to achieve broad-based immigration reform. If the anti-immigrant legislation moves in the state legislature, however, we must take an aggressive position to counteract this divisive and misguided legislation.
Task Force Chair Gonzalez has set specific goals for the task force. In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian she said, "The MALC task force is going to gather facts, invite expert witnesses to House committees considering immigration legislation, and make sure we shine a light on what the immigration issues are really all about.
Anchia raises issue of employer sanctions
In order to attack the hypocrisy of the current immigration debate that focuses solely on the immigrant, Rep. Anchia has filed HB 351. This bill would prohibit granting funds from the Texas Enterprise Fund to a recipient who employs an undocumented worker. The $295 million Texas Enterprise Fund is the Governor's showcase business incentive initiative designed to bring new business to Texas.
Rep. Anchia says it's time to send the message that the debate on immigration can cut both ways. "I filed this bill because I believe that this is the strongest position to take in order to defeat the one-sided nature of the current debate, which focuses only on the immigrant. It's hypocritical to focus only on the immigrant side of the equation while ignoring the demand that US employers create for immigrant labor.
MALC President Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, expressed MALC's support for the initiative. "MALC stands fully behind Representative Anchia and this bill. Now is the time, and this is the legislative session to counteract the onslaught of anti-immigrant legislation.
Anchia sensitive to community concerns, pledges to bring issue before MALC task force
Since the filing of HB 351 Rep. Anchia has received considerable feedback from constituents, some of whom have expressed concern that imposing employer sanctions could have the unintended consequence of creating an adverse impact on the immigrant workers. Rep. Anchia reiterates that his bill in no way increases penalties on workers, stating, "I acknowledge that there is a lot of fear among the immigrant population, and it is not my goal in any way to increase the fear and tension felt by the immigrant community.
He added, "Some have raised concern about the timing of the bill, and others have requested that we consider converting the bill to an amendment, if the anti-immigrant legislation makes it to the House floor."
He concluded, "As Vice-Chair of the MALC Task Force on Immigration, I'm going to take these concerns back to my colleagues at MALC and get additional feedback from them.
The other members of the MALC Immigration Task Force include Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, Joe Farias, D-San Antonio, Juan Garcia, D-Corpus Christi, Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, Tracy King, D-Batesville, Chente Quintanilla, D-El Paso, Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, Juan Escobar, D-Kingsville, Terri Hodge, D-Dallas and Rick Noriega, D-Houston.