'Melting pot' boiling over with immigration reform controversy

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The melting pot is boiling over as immigration reform takes center stage across the country. It all stems from a new, controversial Arizona law that requires local and state authorities to question people about their legal status.

The concept is spilling over here in the Lone Star State where two Texas lawmakers are determined to see something similar on the books.

"I don't care if we're racially profiling or not," said Rep. Leo Berman of Tyler.  "If the federal government is not doing it, the state has to do something to protect our citizens."

Berman said that he has introduced similar legislation in the past, but it never made it out of legislative committee hearings.  He plans to introduce an Arizona-like bill during the upcoming Texas legislative session.

The Arizona law will also require immigrants to carry registration documents at all times.

Rep. Debbie Riddle of Tomball is vowing to draft up legislation of her own.

"There is nothing to prevent a law enforcement officer from stopping any of us if there is reasonable suspicion," said Riddle. "The citizens are sick and tired of political correctness. They want to take their country back."

"I think they're going to get booted down," said Natalie Fletcher, a Tyler immigration attorney.

Fletcher does not expect the Arizona law to stand, nor any Texas-ized version. She said immigration is a federal issue, and opening these kinds of floodgates can be devastating.

"The average man on the street doesn't carry a passport and a birth certificate. If you're willing to let someone you consider to be lower than you on the totem poll have their rights trampled, you get closer to having your own rights trampled," she said.

Gilbert Urbina works with immigrants with the Hispanic American Association of East Texas.

"Many times, [immigrants] don't come across the border, they fly into DFW," from all over the world, Urbina said.

Urbina agrees with the motivation behind Arizona's law, but the methods are concerning.

"We need something that covers the entire country," he said.  "The economy, the housing market, and the healthcare issues all have a component of immigration."

Urbina said once we decide to fix the immigration issue, other important domestic issues can be addressed.

The U.S. Justice Department is now working with the Department of Homeland Security to see how it will respond to the law.

Governor Rick Perry's office has expressed that immigration is a federal responsibility.

Meanwhile, the governor of Arizona said an executive order will be issued with the new law requiring more training for officers on how to implement the law, without racially profiling.

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