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Thistles and Roses

Humanitarian Immigration


As Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close, it is time to discuss Hispanic immigration from a practical and humanitarian point of view.

There have been a lot of Hispanics crossing the border illegally. These are people who are walking thousands of miles, some carrying their babies, to escape suppression of their freedoms and abject poverty — the kind of poverty where they are starving to death. We don’t have to welcome them with open arms, but as a civilized people we should have compassion upon them.

I have been bilingual most of my life, obtaining a Spanish degree from TCU. I have a great understanding of the language, the culture, and the people. In my 40-plus years of law practice about 40% of my clients spoke only Spanish. I have interpreted in court and many other situations. I have many friends in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, and many other countries. They are family oriented and have an envious work ethic.

Most of our ancestors came here seeking the same things —a better life and a safe place to work hard and raise their families. My great grandfather James Gregg Henderson came to Fort Worth from Scotland in the late 1870s with the shirt on his back and stonemason skills. He eventually owned his own business building many historic buildings including the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth.

The problem with illegal immigration is that we have made it too hard to immigrate legally. These people want to work and they become assets to the local economy when given the chance. We can change those laws.

 When Republican Comptroller of Public Accounts, Carolyn Strayhorn, did a detailed economic impact study in 2006, of what were then an estimated 1.4 million illegal aliens in Texas, the objective scientific results were surprising to many with preconceived notions that these people were costing Texans money.

The facts of the study showed that the undocumented workers cost the state $1.16 billion in state services, but they produced $1.58 billion in state revenues — a net plus to the state of over $400 million.

In 2013 the Texas Tribune reported that a Pew study showed there were 1.7 million undocumented workers and the Tribune quoted a study by the Perryman Group that if the undocumented population disappeared from the state that there would be a loss of $69.3 billion in economic activity, $30.8 billion in gross state product and a loss of 403,000 jobs.

Just think what a recession that would cause.

For various political reasons it has been hard to get an updated study. I think many people did not want their false preconceived notions to be confused with the facts.

If there has been a home in East Parker County in the past ten years where some  undocumented workers did not pour the cement, lay the brick, frame the walls, install the plumbing, or put shingles on the roof, someone tell me the address, I would like to see it.  These folks mow the grass, trim the trees, work in the restaurants, etc.

These human beings are and can be assets to our society. There is a large Christian population here. As one of those, I think Christians should be among the first to extend the hand of compassion and hope to desperate people, many of them facing the same obstacles our ancestors did.


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