For the 88th Legislative Session, both grassroots organization Texans for Strong Borders and think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation are advocating to remove benefits, or “magnets,” from illegal aliens.
Magnets are benefits programs that incentivize illegal immigration because they are easily accessible regardless of one’s legal status.
Texans for Strong Borders is focusing on two specific magnets this session: employment and in-state tuition.
Employment is one of the main reasons illegal aliens come to the United States. However, it is not without risks, as employers can easily take advantage of them because of their immigration status.
According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “employers who knowingly hire unauthorized migrants often take advantage of them by paying extremely low wages, refusing to pay, or even threatening to report them to ICE. Employers also typically use cheap labor provided by the undocumented workers to avoid adhering to labor laws that must be observed when employing American citizens and lawful residents.”
Texans for Strong Borders and TPPF believe the solution to this problem is to mandate that all employers use E-Verify in their hiring process. E-Verify is a federal program that checks a job applicant’s immigration status by comparing information provided on the I-9 form with records from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
Currently, Texas requires only the state government and sexually oriented businesses to use E-Verify, unlike Florida, which also requires private sector employers to use the federal system.
Another magnet program is in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Texas’ Education Code currently allows illegal aliens living in Texas to receive the same tuition rates as legal Texas residents.
Texans for Strong Borders is pushing to end this benefit, saying, “Billions of dollars are taken out of hardworking Texans’ wallets every year and put towards schooling, scholarships, housing, and medical care for illegal aliens. These magnets only incentivize them to continue to come and stay in Texas.”
Indeed, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is currently fighting the Biden administration in federal court to enforce a federal rule that prohibits illegal aliens from residing in the country if they will be a burden on taxpayers.
“The Biden Administration is committed to opening the borders to aliens who lack the ability to take care of themselves. Texans should not have to pay for these costly immigrants, nor should any other American,” said Paxton. “I will continue to defend the rule of law and fight to ensure that the massive costs of illegal immigration don’t further burden taxpayers.”
However, Chris Russo, president of Texans for Strong Borders, told Texas Scorecard he doesn’t expect to see movement on ending magnets in the Texas Legislature unless lawmakers pass a resolution declaring an invasion and calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to secure the border. Russo said his organization is advocating for this solution as well as the appropriation of state funds for its enforcement.
The 88th Legislative Session begins Tuesday, January 10.
Citizens can use Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory to contact their lawmakers.