Valley veteran takes stand against 'anti-immigration' bills

A local group is gathering strength to fight what they call "anti-immigration laws in Texas.

The RGV Equal Voice Network is chock full of business and community leaders.

One of its members has a unique view on why Valley opinion should matter most.

Commander Josemaria Vasquez represents the American GI Forum.

He's a local leader for America's Last Patrol and a Vietnam veteran.

Vasquez believes because the Valley contributes so many members to the United States military, it should have more of a say in the issues that affect it, like immigration.

"I mean at one time, we were one-percent of the national casualties, said Vasquez. There were 1,600, and we had 16 killed in action here in the Valley."

Vasquez says Valley service members have died overseas fighting for other people's freedoms.

He now feels bills similar to Arizona's SB 1070 are threatening our own rights.

"They went to die for this country, so we can deny our constitutional rights to anybody in this country who is a U.S. citizen? asked Vasquez.

Vasquez agrees immigrants should try to become legal U.S. citizens.

He also says he understands the entire Valley may not share in his opinion but fears a growing anti-immigrant sentiment could turn time backwards.

"Before it was illegal to let Mexicans in the restaurants|, said Vasquez, So, are we going back to that?" A pre-filed bill in the Texas legislature is similar to that of Arizona's SB 1070 bill.

It would allow law enforcement to question every person no matter their racial background, if they are in the U.S. illegally. The bill's creator, Representative Leo Berman, says illegal immigrants are a big problem, costing Texas tax payers $5 billion a year in healthcare and social services.