The national debate over illegal immigration was once again on full display this week, as Republicans and Democrats sparred over the news that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be conducting raids to arrest and deport large numbers of illegal aliens from cities around the country. Major Texas cities like Houston and Dallas were listed as targets with over 2,000 individuals on the short list for deportation. 

While Republicans argue the raids are necessary to uphold immigration law, sovereignty, and national security, Democrats are outraged, calling the action a violation of basic human rights. As a result, many Texas progressives voiced vehement opposition to the raids.

Local leaders in Texas cities, especially those with large illegal immigrant populations, expressed their opposition to the action by releasing scathing statements condemning the raids. Many have likewise distributed resources to aid illegal aliens who might be implicated. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner recently tweeted a link to an immigration hotline aiming to “help immigrants know their rights.” 

Other Texas Democrats have likewise voiced their opposition, including U.S. Congresswomen Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D–TX) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D–TX), with the latter calling upon local communities, churches, and organizations to open their doors and provide refuge for illegal aliens fearful of deportation. Texas lawmakers including State Rep. Gene Wu (D–Houston) also joined the mass condemnation.

Yet despite strong opposition from the left, ICE raids carried out over the past week have been relatively routine, specifically targeting aliens with already issued final deportation orders. In fact, deportations over the week have largely reflected the same precedent and action taken during the Obama years.

Texas Democrats like U.S. Reps. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (left) & Sheila Jackson Lee (center) as well as State Rep. Gene Wu (right) voiced vehement opposition to the raids.

Further, now that the political dust has settled, many cities are reporting that the raids did not unfold into the humanitarian crises that Democrats warned about. While ICE did arrest illegal aliens in major U.S. cities over the weekend, the raids were reported as professionally conducted with humane treatment for all parties taken into custody.

Due to its proximity to the Mexican border, illegal immigration is an issue that affects Texas directly. It is a known fact that Texas’ cities house large populations of illegal immigrants, and the debate over how to handle the issue has polarized Republicans and Democrats across local, state, and federal positions. 

However, despite the polarization, the outrage by Democrats as a result of potential ICE raids shows a shift in their immigration stance. There was a time when the concept of deporting illegals with final and judge-certified deportation orders was routine and agreed upon by a majority of Congress.

After all, Obama did it frequently, with Trump following suit.

Raids by ICE have followed the same precedent through both Trump and Obama administrations.

By opposing these most recent raids, Democrats have provided further evidence of their desire to obstruct actions by the Trump administration at all costs, even if it means opposing a policy they once supported.

Illegal immigration will remain an issue that Texas politicians will have to address in a substantial way sooner or later. These latest raids once again demonstrate that Democrats will inevitably shriek at Republicans’ actions, even if it is simply enforcing the law.

Especially in Texas, it is up to conservative leadership at both the state and federal level to ignore the noise, keep their electoral promises, and finally secure the border.

Sam Samson

Sam Samson is a third-year Government Honors major at the University of Texas and is an officer at UT's Young Conservatives of Texas. His political experience includes serving as both a staffer in the office of Senator Ted Cruz and as a member of two leadership missions to Israel. Besides being an overt Traditional Catholic, he loves friends and family, golfing, playing piano, debating hot takes, and is an avid world traveller, having visited 26 countries.