On Tuesday, September 7th 2010, the City Council of Tomball, Texas heard a series of disturbing proposals. These proposals included: making English the official language of the city, prohibiting illegal immigrants from owning/renting property, prohibiting them from owning a business, and closing the city’s day laborer site. Luckily, for all believers in the Constitution, all of these proposals were defeated. However, with the midterm elections rapidly approaching, citizens of Tomball, and Houston by extension, are questioning the motives behind these proposals.
These ideas were proposed by Tomball City Councilman Derek Townsend, Sr. and enjoyed the support of many tea party groups who resided in the area. Townsend and his supporters maintained that these proposals had nothing to do with race, but were about supporting the Constitution. According to the September 8, 2010 edition of the Houston Chronicle, Townsend said, “People have been working all their lives and paying Social Security, and by the time I retire, I might not have Social Security. So it’s a concern.” One of Townsend supporters also stated that “Saturday on the corner, you have La Raza, anarchists and Marxists supporting our mayor and City Council.”
These statements are inaccurate and asinine for a couple of reasons. First, the idea that Mr. Townsend thinks that his Social Security will be depleted because the illegal immigrants will be receiving the benefits is ludicrous. According to factcheck.org, illegal immigrants cannot legally receive Social Security benefits, and for him to state that they can, serves no other purpose than to fuel his prejudice against them. The only benefits illegal immigrants can receive are as follows: emergency medical care, emergency disaster relief, treatment of communicable diseases, limited immunizations, and soup kitchens. To address the second statement made by one of Townsends supporters, I think that his comparison between illegal immigrants, anarchists, and Marxists is equally ludicrous. It is true that illegal immigrants circumvent the system in order to stay in our country, but how will they ever be able to make the money necessary to pay for citizenship, pay taxes, and pay for the Social Security Mr. Townsend is so worried about, if they cannot own business or work in the day labor center?
Mr. Townsend’s proposal to close down the day labor center in Tomball is equally as prejudiced as his other proposals. In this economy and during this recession, places like the day labor center are sought out by more citizens every day. When my husband was laid off last year, his ability to find work in a day labor center similar to this one prevented us from losing our home. The fact is, that there will be illegal immigrants working in these day labor centers. There are also illegal immigrants working in restaurants and many other places. The answer is not to simply close down businesses, but to make these businesses responsible for making sure all the proper documentation is in order when they hire someone. According to the Houston Chronicle, one of Tomball’s residents Ken Shuman had an excellent point in this regard. He says that “It’s not the job description of the City Council to regulate immigration.” It is this mindset that has become so dangerous here in the south where there are a lot of people of Hispanic descent, including myself and my family.