Is immigration a state or federal issue?

By Layron Livingston - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - So who exactly is responsible for bringing about reform and enforcing immigration laws? That question is sparking debate along lines well beyond the border.

"Should the federal government be doing legislation concerning immigration, yes, but the question I would shoot back is what have they done? They haven't done a single thing," said Representative Leo Berman.

He said he can't change federal law, but one thing he can do is...

"Challenge automatic citizenship under the 14th amendment for the children of illegal aliens born in Texas," said Berman.

He's already filed Texas House bill 256 which would make children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents, non-citizens.

"We want a lawsuit to take us into federal court where our attorney general can take this all the way to the U.S. supreme court, and have some judge say, 'you know, you're right,'" said Berman.

He said his constituents are being hurt by 2 million undocumented residents, and it's his job....

"To protect my citizens by enforcing the law," said Berman.

He represents constituents like "Bill" who wrote in to to say, "[I] totally support Berman for introducing the bill...the only thing wrong is that it does not go far enough."

He was referring to another bill that Berman filed that was aimed at relocating all illegal immigrants to "sanctuary cities."

"It's a federal issue," said Gus Ramirez.

Ramirez admits that something needs to be done, but some bills go to far.

"What makes a state representative dictate to Congress or the U.S. Senate, 'hey we need to do this,'" asked Ramirez.

Tyler immigration attorney Natalie Fletcher said immigration is exclusively a federal issue but she says it's becoming more common for laws to be enforced indirectly on the state level. She spoke with us by telephone.

"The states, when they think that the feds are failing to act, will try to draft their own legislation and take matters into their own hands," said Fletcher.

She said lawmakers are driven by their most vocal constituents and the pendulum of public opinion will continue to swing.

Berman has filed a number of bills this legislative session. If you want to read them go to the "Big Red Box" and Click on "Berman's bills."