Conservative Groups Push Immigration Reform with ‘Texas Compact’

The topic of immigration is seldom discussed these days in the Texas Legislature, but Texans still want a seat at the table in Washington, D.C., where immigration reform has finally gained traction and bipartisan support. A group of conservative religious and business leaders, pushing a set of immigration goals they call the Texas Compact, wants to ensure Texas has a role in new immigration laws by lobbying Texas’ federal legislators to get behind reform.

“[This] … is our moment in history to write the chapter on how Texas, and our country eventually, handles with dignity, humanity and in our best interest our immigration issue,” said Marcia Nichols, co-chair of the Compact, during a press conference call Tuesday. “The reality living in Texas is we have always had an integral part of our community that have been immigrants. We have been behind the curve in adopting sensible, fair approaches to this reality.”

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The Texas Compact is modeled after the Utah Compact on immigration, a plan released three years ago. The Texas Compact outlines five principles: creating solutions for immigration reform at the federal level; encouraging law enforcement to differentiate between criminals and undocumented immigrants; recognizing the vital impact immigrants have on the U.S. economy and enabling them to have a greater impact; putting an end to the practice of separating families through deportation; and facilitating undocumented immigrants’ participation in a “free society.”

Texas is the fourth state to adopt such a compact, drafted largely by conservative religious and business leaders. In the press conference call Tuesday, moderated by former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, business representatives from Houston and members of the evangelical and law enforcement communities talked about the state’s need for immigration reform. The Compact has signatories from all over the state, including Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Compact Co-chair Mike Nichols was also on the call and compared the immigration issue to the fight for civil rights. Nichols is the Chairman of Houston’s Financial Task Force and a former Senior Vice President at Sysco Corp. He said Texas congressmen seem to be afraid to support immigration reform, and the Compact is a means to encourage them to do so by showing them Texans of all stripes will back them up. The key, the authors agreed, is for legislators to act now. … FULL STORY

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