Beto, Immigrants and Annoying El Paso Politics

The most annoying thing I deal with is that Mexican citizens are used as political fodder in American politics. Taxes, immigration, language or poverty usually ends up with someone blaming Mexican citizens for the problem. That is not the annoying part. The annoying part is that the same people blaming immigrants for problems are the ones that tell the world that they love immigrants and that immigrants make America great. El Paso politicos are a prime example of this. Veronica Escobar loves to tell the world that El Paso is inclusive and that immigrants make it a great city. What Escobar doesn’t add, besides that her husband is paid to sign orders deporting immigrants is that she supports jailing immigrants in El Paso to keep El Paso’s economy humming along.

Likewise, Beto O’Rourke blasts Donald Trump’s wall building rhetoric. Beto says he supports the immigrant plight. Beto has built a nostalgic personal history of going to Cd. Juárez and speaking Spanish before English. Beto mentions the Mexican nanny of his youth.

What Beto has not done, is actively push forth public policy that helps immigrants. Like Escobar, immigrants are great talking points for political points but when it comes to naming El Paso a sanctuary city or ending a federal contract to jail immigrants in El Paso jails their action is pure silence, as in move on, nothing to see here, just ignore the lack of substance.

It is not new to Beto O’Rourke or Veronica Escobar because it has been part of El Paso’s politics for decades. Just look at what Pat O’Rourke, Beto’s father did in 1986.

As county judge, Pat O’Rourke sent Ronald Reagan a bill for $7.5 million in January 1986 demanding that the federal government reimburse the El Paso public hospital, Thomason for treating undocumented immigrants.

On the surface the “bill” which could not and would never be paid by the federal government was just a political scheme to highlight the issue of funding shortfalls at the local public hospital.

Thomason Hospital was arguing that it needed more federal dollars to provide mandated services it was required to provide to residents of El Paso. The hospital, and Pat O’Rourke argued that El Paso was one of the “poorest” cities in the nation (sound familiar?) and it needed more federal dollars. The El Paso leadership also argued that “illegal aliens” were overburdening the hospital system.

Yes, Pat O’Rourke used the term “illegal aliens” to refer to Mexican immigrants. During the Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Economic Goals and Intergovernmental Policy of the Joint Economic Committee before Congress, Pat O’Rourke testified about the “bleak” El Paso economy on August 1, 1988, blaming it in part on the health of the Mexican economy.

Note the duplicity that is common in El Paso politics? On one hand, Pat O’Rourke acknowledged El Paso’s dependency on the economy from Cd. Juárez while demanding that “illegal aliens” return to México. This in addition to blaming immigrants for Thomason’s economic woes. It is not the first time that Pat O’Rourke referred to Mexican immigrants as “illegal aliens” as it was common for him, even though he has been quoted as stating that he adopted the “Beto” nickname for his son because of their proximity to México.

As is the common model of blaming Mexicans for decades, the statement is made that undocumented are a burden to the system but specificity as to how many undocumented immigrants were treated at Thomason are never provided. In 1981, the hospital “estimated” that 20% of its service population were undocumented immigrants.

How hard is it to ask for paperwork to prove legal residence?

Therein lies the continued duplicity.

In early 1988, the El Paso Legal Assistance Society sued the hospital district arguing that they should be prohibited from asking about the citizenship of those seeking service. As a result, the hospital was prohibited from asking about the citizenship of its patients.

What is important to point out is that it was U.S. citizens who prohibited the hospital district from asking for citizenship paperwork. Mexican citizens cannot make laws.

Part of the debate over the hospital’s funding was based on whether the hospital was required to provide service to residents of El Paso, regardless of citizenship or only to legal residents of the city. Remember that it is not illegal to own property in El Paso and pay taxes even while not legally allowed to live in the country.

The Border Crossing Card, or Mica allows Mexican citizens to be in the country for up to 72-hours at a time. That includes sleeping in El Paso. There is a difference between “legal residence” and where one sleeps. This is why many residents can drive automobiles with license plates from other states legally although they sleep in another state.

Putting that aside for now, the issue remains that although El Paso school districts, the hospital district and other taxing entities like to blame Mexican citizens, but when it comes time to quantify them it is always an “estimate” based on dubious assumptions.

For politicos, like those from El Paso, it is easy to blame immigrants for money problems because actual numbers do not exist. Duplicitously while blaming them they embrace immigrants as an asset to America but stop short of doing something to help the immigrants.

Pat O’Rourke talked about how El Paso benefited from Cd. Juárez while blaming “illegal immigrants” for high taxes.

Likewise, Veronica Escobar uses Donald Trump’s wall narrative against him while knowingly using federal monies that hurt immigrants in her own household and to keep the El Paso economy artificially afloat.

Beto O’Rourke has cast himself as a defender of the immigrant plight but has yet to legislatively enact anything in support of immigrants at the local or national level.

While he embraces his love for the Mexican culture and Cd. Juárez he also grew up in household where “illegal alien” was common vernacular and where blaming immigrants for community problems was normal. Beto’s lack of meaningful legislation in support of immigrants demonstrates that the blame an immigrant while telling everyone how valued they are is part of his political repertoire.

Advertisements