Odessa Hispanic Leaders Speak Out On Immigration Legislation

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--More than 60 bills in Austin promise immigration reform. Hispanic leaders in Odessa aren't too happy with state lawmakers, including home town representative, Tryon Lewis.

They say these proposed bills will only serve one thing, to open the door for racial profiling, all because of the color of someone's skin, even if they are U.S. citizens or not.

"No matter how they write it, no matter how nice they're going to word it, the thing will be only Hispanics. Only darker people are going to be looked at as illegal's," Carol Uranga with LULAC 4451 in Odessa, said.

Uranga has a lot to say about proposed immigration bills coming out of Austin, including House Bills 532 and 804, sponsored by Rep. Tryon Lewis. Uranga says the only way to deal with him is confront him and tell him how they feel about his idea of reform.

She thinks all proposed bills should be completely withdrawn, "What he introduced was wrong. If he wants to sit at our table and call himself our friend, he needs to say, you know what? I made a mistake. This cannot come from me, because it's imposing on my friends. And that's us, all of us that were born here, U.S. citizens. That's what we are."

Odessa attorney Richard Abalos says this is a good example of one entity trying to do a job that's already been assigned to somebody else, "We said that it was a slap in the face to Hispanics. It is Arizona-style. Tryon doesn't believe that it is, but we believe that it is. State law is trying to perform federal law. That's a conflict, there."

HB 1202, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Riddle, would make it illegal for anyone to hire an undocumented worker, except for a couple of exceptions, someone hired to clean your house, mow your lawn or scrub your floors.

According to Uranga, "This is another slap in the face, for them to say, yeah, you can come in and work in the United States as long as you hold a menial, low paying job that's not going to get you anywhere."

Uranga and Abalos agree, if passed, these new laws would open the door for racial profiling that would affect everyone, no matter if you're a citizen, resident or undocumented.

"It attacks me, my wife, my kids. We're Mexican-Americans, but we're Americans. Under that law, we would be treated as if we were illegal's," Abalos said.

Abalos says an immigration law will be passed in Austin, but it might not be the bill sponsored by Rep. Lewis.

There was late night debate Wednesday over HB 12, sponsored Rep. Burt Solomons. It does not require local law enforcement to ask about immigration status or enforce federal law.

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