Valley activists react to new anti-illegal immigration bills

With the start of the Texas Legislative session right around the corner, lawmakers are getting to work on proposed bills.

Texas State Representative Leo Berman (R-Tyler) pre-filed seven anti-illegal immigration bills on Tuesday morning.

The laws range from making English the official language of Texas, to "Arizona's style" SB 1070.

But under Berman's bill every person no matter what their racial background could be asked if they are in the United States illegally.

"I don't think any of my constituents would mind showing their driver TMs license, I wouldn't mind showing mine or any other identification", said Representative Berman.

Berman told Action 4 News in a telephone interview that that bills are intended to fight illegal immigration in the Lone Star State.

"Next to the economy, illegal aliens are the number one problem in the State of Texas," Berman said.

The Tyler lawmaker said illegal immigrants cost Texas taxpayers $5 billion dollars a year in healthcare and social services.

The Republican lawmaker said his bills are not anti-immigrant and not anti-Hispanic but rather anti-illegal immigration.

"We are very saddened", said Martha Sanchez with La Union Del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE.

LUPE is an organization geared towards immigration reform.

"We are not going to take this laying down. We are going to reach out to the church's to anybody and work together to block this anti immigration legislation that makes us so sad", said Sanchez.

Sanchez also tells Action 4 News these anti immigration bills are bad for the Rio Grande Valley economy, especially when it comes to travelers from Mexico who come to the United States to shop.

"Are they still going to feel comfortable to shop in our malls, eat in our restaurants, and sleep in our hotels?", said Sanchez.

As for Representative Berman he says he was elected to do a job and that's exactly what he's doing.

"This is a nation of laws," Berman said. "We take an oath in the House of Representatives to defend the laws of the United States and Texas. That's what I intend to do."

Full text copies of the bills are available on the Texas Legislature website:

HJR 38 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to establish English as the official language of Texas and require that official acts of government be performed in English.

HB 292 - Relating to birth records of children born in this state; creating an offense.

HB 293 - Relating to the eligibility of an individual born in this state whose parents are illegal aliens to receive state benefits.

HB 294 - Relating to prohibiting a person who is in the United States illegally from bringing a claim in a state court.

HB 295 - Relating to certification for placement on the ballot of candidates for president or vice-president of the United States.

HB 296 - Relating to the enforcement of immigration laws, to the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of certain criminal offenses concerning illegal immigration, and to certain employment and labor practices and requirements regarding immigration and immigrants; providing civil and criminal penalties.

HB 303 - Relating to the imposition of a fee for money transmissions sent to certain destinations outside the United States.