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A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of human-kind as the foundation of democracy: we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them, because this is a journal of freevoices. SINCE 1954 Founding Editor: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: James Cullen Production: Peter Szymczak Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Editorial Interns: Todd Basch, Carmen Garcia, Angela Hardin, Trae Monroe. Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Barbara Belejack, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Brett Campbell, Peter Cassidy, Jo Clifton, Carol Countryman, Terry FitzPatrick, James Harrington, Bill Helmer, Jim Hightower, Ellen Hosmer, Molly Ivins, Steven Kellman, Michael King, Deborah Lutterbeck, Tom McClellan, Bryce Milligan, Debbie Nathan, James McCarty Yeager. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Austin; Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Dave Denison, Cambridge, Mass; Bob Eckhardt, Austin; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Austin; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Jackson, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Fort Worth; James Presley, Texarkana; Schwartz, Galveston; Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg. Poetry Consultant: Thomas B. Whitbread Contributing Photographers: Bill Albrecht, Vic Hinterlang, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Michael Alexander, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Carlos Lowry, Gary Oliver, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods, Matt Wuerker. Business Manager: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom Development Consultant: Frances Barton SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year. Back issues S3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Any current subscriber who finds the price a burden should say so at renewal time; no one need forgo reading the Observer simply because of the cost. INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 198 1,Thc Texas Observer Index. copyrighted, 1994, is published biweekly except for a three-week interval 477-0746. E-mail: [email protected] Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. IMMIGIMMIGRANTS HAVE BEEN targets for RANTS demagogues in Texas ever since the 1830s, when Mexican authorities tried to cut down on undesirable immigration of An glos into what was then northern Mexico. The immigration reforms enforced by President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in those days failed to stop the Texian settlers and 160 years later the Texas-Mexico border is still a frontier where immigrants are blamed for the latest ills. The recent proposal to establish a national registry of eligible workers in the United States is only the latest attempt to choke off the flow of undocumented immigrants. Ironically, this registry, which raises profound questions about privacy and the accumulation of government authority through a computerized national database, was proposed by Barbara’Jordan of Austin, chair of a presidential Commission on Immigration Reform, the week before the former Texas Congresawoman received the Presidential Medal of Civil libertarians complain that such a system not only would subject anyone with a dark complexion or a foreign accent to continual status checks by police, banks, merchants, landlords and government agencies as well as potential employers. It also would make data on every American available to government officials, computer hackers and commercial interests. The national worker registry is only one of several immigrant-bashing measures that have been bouncing around Washington during the past few months. It seems as if every bill that goes through the hopper attracts immigrant-bashing amendments. When HR 3838, the Housing and Community Development Act, came up for a vote July 22, Rep. Jay Kim, a California Republican, attached an amendment that would deny emergency food, shelter and other support services to undocumented immigrants except after presidentially declared disasters. The amendment would require homeless shelters and soup kitchens that receive federal aid to verify the immigration status of people seeking help. In the minority of 176 opposing the amendment were Texas Democrats Ron Coleman of El Paso, Kika de la Garza of Mission, Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio, Gene Green of Houston, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas, Greg Laughlin of West Columbia, Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi, Jake Pickle of Austin, Frank Tejeda of San Antonio and Charlie Wilson of Lufkin. Very few Hispanic names were among the bipartisan 226 who voted for the immigrant-bashing amendment, but one of them was Henry Bonilla, the San Antonio Republican whose district includes the border from Laredo to El Paso. A similar amendment to the crime bill would require local and state agencies that receive federal funds, including public health clinics, police and family service agencies, to identify and hand over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service the names of people suspected of being undocumented. Immigration advocates say this would only drive undocumented people further underground. Welfare reform also has attracted measures that would restrict eligibility of immigrantsincluding those who are in this country legallyfor federal programs, including Social Security disability, Medicaid, food stamps, Aid to Family with Dependent Children and unemployment compensation. Undocumented immigrants already are ineligible for these programs, although they may qualify for health programs for pregnant women, infants and children, Headstart education programs and emergency medical care \(if they are willing to risk being handed over to Health care reformers also face a battle over immigrants. The Clinton Administration proposed to exclude immigrants, despite the arguments that universal health coverageincluding undocumented immigrantsactually saves money. And contagious diseases do not check for green cards. Now comes Texas Attorney General Dan Morales with a lawsuit seeking $5 billion from the federal government to reimburse the state for providing services to a guesstimated 876,000 undocumented immigrants. Texas joins Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey in seeking damages for the federal government’s failure to seal the border. The trouble is, there is no way to verify Morales’ claims that undocumented aliens cost the state $1.34 billion a year. Last year the Governor’s office estimated there were 550,000 undocumented aliens in Texas, who cost the state $166 million; the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated there were only 350,000 undocumented aliens in Texas. Donald Huddle, a Rice University economist, concluded in March that illegal immigrants cost Texas $1 billion more than they pay in taxes. But the Urban Institute in EDITORIALS Blame the Newcomers 2 AUGUST 19, 1994