Texas is not San Francisco.
Our cities and counties don’t defy or undermine federal immigration enforcement.
And violent psychopaths remain rare among Texas’ 4 million-plus foreign nationals — most of them here legally, but more than 1 million not.
We get mad and forget all that when we read about the killing of a 32-year-old woman in San Francisco, and about the arrest of a repeat drug offender from Mexico released from federal prison despite a 24-year criminal record.
Never miss a local story.
Then we hear Donald Trump or some other campaign foghorn, and we forget that our 4 million-plus neighbors from other countries want dangerous criminals locked up too.
San Francisco city and county officials continue to swap blame for the release of an ex-con who should have been held for deportation after a court hearing there but wasn’t because that city’s 1980s-era “sanctuary” law prevents holding federal civil immigration violators.
(Unlike San Francisco, almost every Texas city and county cooperates with federal agents. When you hear about a “sanctuary city” here, somebody is stretching the term to refer to cities where police don’t routinely ask immigration status with no cause.)
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., was in town Saturday talking about immigration and the San Francisco snafu.
“I have two daughters, two beautiful daughters, and my heart aches for this young woman whose life was snuffed out because everyone ignored the record of a career criminal,” he said on a visit for neighborhood forums with U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.
Gutierrez said the suspect should “rot in hell.”
Federal officials should have asked for a warrant to hold him, Gutierrez said, and should never again release anyone to any city that won’t comply with federal requests.
Then Gutierrez made a simple point I haven’t heard on all-mad talk radio.
“There’s a reason this man is able to hide so easily,” Gutierrez said.
“It’s because we haven’t taken the millions of good people who are here and put them on the books.”
If we granted some sort of work permits or legal status to those immigrants who came as misdemeanor-level civil violators years ago but now live, work, raise children and pay taxes peacefully — well, then cities and counties could spend our money and time stopping violent ex-cons.
“Let’s fix our broken system,” he said.
“These jurisdictions just want people in the community to feel safe and let law enforcement do its job.”
Gutierrez responded with surprise to a recent lawsuit over Texas county clerks or city secretaries refusing to issue copies of birth certificates for some American-born children.
According to the liberal Texas Observer, state health officials have advised legal registrars not to issue certificates if the parent’s only ID is the matricula consular, an identification issued for citizens of Mexico living outside the country. Seventeen parents are suing after being turned away by registrars in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties, the Observer said. Dallas County has posted a similar policy.
“They’re children,” Gutierrez said, “and they’re citizens of this country. That’s really unfortunate. Why take it out on them?”
Veasey said Republicans have a “phobia” against recognizing the much-criticized matricula consular.
“I don’t know why those county clerks [or city registrars] are not doing their job, which is to issue birth certificates,” he said.
“Those children are Americans.”
Newborns should not make us mad.
Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538