California Immigration Texas

Contrasting Approaches of Immigration policies in California and Texas

For decades, Texas and California have held fundamentally different political perspectives. California leans towards liberal and progressive policies, while Texas is more aligned with republican values. Both states aim to influence federal policies according to their values and often compete indirectly by using their state as evidence of how their model can be successful. This article will examine the different approaches taken by California and Texas, specifically about immigration. 

From as early as the 19th century, the United States has seen waves of immigration from all over the world. While U.S. immigration has evolved, it is still a complex system that aims to balance enforcement with humanitarian concerns. With presidents and candidates ensuring the public that they will address our current broken immigration system, our current state remains controversial and important, as it reflects broader social debates over security and politics. 

California is the most populated state in the United States with 39,000,000 people, while Texas is the second most populated with 30,000,000 people. Almost 10,500,000 of California’s population and 5,000,000 of Texas are foreign-born and immigrants. California has the largest immigration population and Texas has the second largest, and most of this immigration population comes from Latin America, predominantly Mexico. 

The Texas governance model is characterized by three essential features: low taxes, light regulation, and limited social spending. The Texas Model values limited government growth and believes that keeping taxes low, reduces the costs of living and doing business in the state. It also limits the size of government and promotes individual freedom and economic growth. The Texas Model prioritizes low taxes and limited social spending, which means that public welfare programs and social services may not receive as much funding as in other states. 

In Texas, immigration is a highly polarized issue. Overall, the state has stronger and stricter border security measures in comparison to other states, leading to concerns that their policies are unfair to immigrants. In 2023, Texas lawmakers approved Senate Bill 4, which allows Texas police to arrest people for illegally crossing the Mexico border. This new law would make it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry. If a police officer believes they have evidence that a person illegally crossed, that person could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to six months in jail. Additionally, Texas tends to help federal agencies and even encourages cooperation with ICE. 

Luckily, because of the Supreme Court Plyler v Doe (1982), which ruled that states cannot deny students a free public education based on their immigration status, undocumented students are entitled to attend public school in Texas, regardless of their immigration status. Because of the Texas Dream Act in 2001, undocumented students can qualify for in-state tuition rates if they have resided in Texas for three years before receiving a GED; however, their eligibility for state financial aid is limited.  

 

 

Image Credit: Pixabay/Pexels.

 

In contrast to Texas, California takes a completely different approach to immigration and has a more inclusive and protective stance. The California Values Act (SB 54) ensures that no state and local resources are used to assist federal immigration enforcement. Additionally, their AB 60 law allows individuals to apply for driver’s licenses in California, regardless of their immigration status, and without proving that they are lawfully present in the United States. In general, California is a sanctuary state so they restrict local enforcement from using their resources to assist federal immigration authorities unless it involves a serious crime; California is known to be non-cooperative with ICE. 

California’s approach to education provides more benefits for immigrants. California values education, especially for immigrants, so they established the California English Language Development Standards (CELDS)  which help ESL students acquire English proficiency while also meeting grade-level academic standards. Their Dream Act also allows students to apply for and receive scholarships and state financial aid.  

 

 

Image Credit: Pixabay/Pexels.

 

 

Many worry that Texas’ strict approach could harm industries that rely on immigrant labor, overall damaging their economy. Some even argue that “Texas Officials Must be Held Accountable for Dangerous, Inhumane Treatment of Immigrants.” However, there are still some programs that aim to help immigrants residing in Texas. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has a program for some employers that offers resources and programs to assist immigrants in finding employment and integrating into the workforce. This program provides job placement services and training opportunities to help immigrants overcome barriers to employment. Additionally, Texas’ dream act mentioned above extends in-state tuition and grants eligibility to non-citizen residents of the state. While it is limited, some students would be given the opportunity to receive a higher education that they would not have been able to obtain in their country. 

Many worry that Texas’ strict approach could harm industries that rely on immigrant labor, overall damaging their economy. Some even argue that “Texas Officials Must be Held Accountable for Dangerous, Inhumane Treatment of Immigrants.” However, there are still some programs that aim to help immigrants residing in Texas. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has a program for some employers that offers resources and programs to assist immigrants in finding employment and integrating into the workforce. This program provides job placement services and training opportunities to help immigrants overcome barriers to employment. Additionally, Texas’ Dream Act mentioned above extends in-state tuition and grants eligibility to non-citizen residents of the state. While it is limited, some students would be allowed to receive a higher education that they would not have been able to obtain in their country. 

California is known to have a liberal agenda, and its immigration policies are a significant aspect of its political identity. Because they don’t comply with the federal government in some aspects, their state has caused a lot of political tension within parties. However, their policies are more appealing to immigrants, and overall provide more benefits for them. In addition to the California Dream Act that allows undocumented and nonresident documented students who meet certain provisions to be treated the same as resident students, the California Immigrant Inclusion Initiative (CIII) focuses on the integration of immigrants into California’s social, economic, and civic life. It provides funding for education, employment, legal services, and English classes for immigrants residing in California. 

In summary, California and Texas exemplify two contrasting models of governance and policy-making, particularly regarding immigration. California’s progressive approach offers protections and benefits to immigrants and fosters a more inclusive environment. Conversely, Texas adopts a more conservative approach, emphasizing strict border security and limiting social spending for immigration topics. Both approaches underscore the broader political and social dynamic within each state, and as both states continue to try and influence federal policies, their models serve as an example of how immigration can be managed within the U.S. 

 


Catalina de la Peña | Immigration Correspondent

Growing up in a predominately Hispanic community and being raised by Cuban immigrants, I have seen firsthand how immigration issues deeply impact individuals, families, and communities. I’ve always felt a strong connection to the stories of immigrants, and now, I have the opportunity to delve deeper into these narratives. As an Immigration Correspondent, I plan to focus on shedding light on Latin American economic and political struggles, particularly in countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, and in Puerto Rico, and how these challenges intersect with the experiences of current immigrants in the United States. To support my reports, I plan on combining real-life stories from immigrants residing in Miami, Florida, with thorough research. Working with Latina Republic allows me to combine my passion for storytelling with my commitment to social justice, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the understanding of the complexities of immigration and Latin American issues.