For workers, against injustice

Dear friend:

Today is May Day, or International Worker’ Day!

We take the rights of workers to be treated fairly for granted, but things like the eight-hour workday, weekends off, and basic safety were not freely given. They had to be fought for and won by workers. Today, across the country, millions of people are celebrating this struggle. More importantly, they are carrying it on.

The American Dream is simple. Every person who is willing to work hard could get a job that paid enough to put a roof over their family’s head and food in their mouth, with some disposable income left for savings and life’s little pleasures – a dinner and movie night out, or a vacation.

The dream is alive, but it is shrinking, not expanding. Amid extravagant wealth, too many people – of all races, colors, and cultures – have to struggle for even the basic necessities, and for fair treatment. Whether native-born Americans or immigrant, we all want a better tomorrow. Today, we celebrate those who helped build the present, and to those who are building an even better future.

We’re all in this together

Today, immigrants are under particular duress. We see it from the president, and we see it in the Texas Legislature. I filed a resolution in the Senate (SR 706) as a companion to Rep. Ramon Romero Jr’s HR 1839. It reads as follows:

WHEREAS, From the founding of our country onward, generations 
of immigrants have come to the United States in hopes of realizing 
the promise of the American dream; and 
WHEREAS, In 2015, immigrants of all statuses accounted for 
20.6 percent of the Texas labor force; many of those individuals 
have greatly benefited the state economy as small business owners 
and entrepreneurs–9.4 percent of immigrants in Texas are 
self-employed, compared to just 5.8 percent of the native-born 
population–while more still have played an essential role in a 
wide range of industries, especially education, health care, and 
social-assistance services; and 
WHEREAS, Immigrants residing in Texas earned an estimated 
$119 billion in wage, salary, and self-employment income in 2015, 
and undocumented immigrants in the state pay approximately $1.5 
billion in state and local taxes each year; and 
WHEREAS, A dynamic and diverse workforce is vital to the 
prosperity of the Lone Star State, and it is indeed fitting that 
immigrants be recognized for their innumerable contributions to the 
Texas economy; now, therefore, be it 
RESOLVED, That the Senate of the 85th Texas 
Legislature hereby honor the economic contributions made by 
immigrants to the Lone Star State.

The Capital of the Border leads on the issues

The El Paso Times has chronicled the role of El Paso in the national debate. Our community is at the crossroads of the continent – its original name was El Paso del Norte. That means the Pass of the North. It is where the Rocky Mountains terminate, and a gap opens. This allowed trade and other traffic to move across the continent for millennia. El Paso as a modern city grew with the railroads, as they followed the beaten track west. Now we are the largest U.S. city that is directly on the border.

It is up to our community to lead the fight to stop bad laws, such as SB 4 in the Texas Legislature, which deputizes local police to be the “deportation force” that already is sowing fear in immigrant communities – a desired outcome for the attorney general and others who make no bones about what they are doing. The El Paso Times wrote about the efforts of the El Paso delegation here.

And it is up to our community to tell the truth about the border and immigrant communities. We are proud of our culture, and won’t stand for being denigrated. It’s sometimes frustrating, because the anti-border, anti-immigrant propaganda has taken its toll, but I have faith that eventually the truth will be heard. You can read more from the El Paso Times on that subject here.


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