Immigrants on immigration

A few weeks ago I posted something about Jerry Patterson’s comments on immigration about how early illegal immigrants in Texas had names like his. Once again, Lalo Alcaraz has captured some of that immigration dilemma in his comic strip La Cucaracha.

La Cucraracha February 20, 2013

Many of Lalo’s comic strips and Facebook posts drive me crazy. However, I have to admit that he doesn’t flinch a bringing up some uncomfortable truths about immigration in America.


Where new Texans come from, where old Texans go

Governing magazine has a story (“See Where Residents in Your State Are Moving To, From“) with an interactive graphic that shows how people move from state to state.

Texas saw about 515,000 new residents in 2011 while about 405,000 moved out of the state. The biggest number of new arrivals was from California. California was also the biggest destination for departing Texans. Of course, California has the biggest population so it shouldn’t be any surprise that they’re number one in both categories.


More surprising is the large number of Texans leaving for Oklahoma. We saw about 31,595 Texans leave for Oklahoma while only 19,126 Oklahomans moved to Texas. Texas isn’t a net loser to that many states and the defection to Oklahoma is hard to explain.  You can check out other states using their interactive database.

Reframing the debate on illegal immigration

A few years ago when we put together the first edition of the textbook, about the only thing that got dropped from the first draft because of political controversy was some of my comments about immigration. I suggested that modern Texas was founded by illegal immigrants. I thought it was ironic that today’s Texas is the political creation resulting in part from Americans who illegally entered Mexico.

Geronimo--Show Me Your Papers

A little art from cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz.

Now, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is making the same case. In a story on the Texas Tribune website (“State Records Shed Light on Texas’ Early ‘Illegals’“) Patterson said, “We have a long tradition of immigration and illegal immigration, and the first illegals were folks who look a lot more like me than they did some native Tejano.” Exactly who first snuck into whose territory is an ongoing debate. However, it should be pretty clear to today’s Anglo Texans that they were neither the first nor the last.

From my own experience I can tell the Land Commissioner that this is not what people want to hear. I don’t know how much Patterson cares. He’s an honest and blunt politician. His comments on the immigration status of early Anglo Texans may not help him win the Lt. Governor’s office but he is pointing us toward a more constructive understanding of immigration. People want to view immigration in very simple terms. In reality, the issue is immensely complicated and we need to have a serious discussion to make sure that the next round of immigration reform doesn’t create more problems than it creates.

Texas as a “sanctuary state”

The Texas Tribune has a good article (“Is Texas a Sanctuary State?“) on the debate over the “sanctuary” label that has been attached to Houston during the current governor’s race. The article helps shed light on the various claims that we’re going to hear repeated throughout the 2010 campaign. I thought it was an especially interesting article because it looked into why state and local law enforcement have rules about asking about immigration status. The story includes links to Houston police and Texas Department of Public Safety policies on the issue.

The article raises a couple of interesting topics for discussion. One issue is the proper role of state and local officials in immigration policy. Another issue centers on the policies and priorities of local law enforcement officials

Stuck on Texas

The Pew Center (always a great source for information) through its  has just released its analysis of internal immigration in the U.S. Their analysis indicates that people born in Texas stay in their home state more than any other state in the union. States where a high percentage of who were born there live there now are termed “sticky.” States where a high percentage of residents came from other states are termed “magnetsSticky and Magnetic states.”

The Pew Center’s analysis shows that 75.8% of those of us born in Texas are still in Texas.  That makes Texas the “stickiest” state in the United States. Some of that stickiness may the product of our size. You have to move pretty far to get out of this state.

As it turns out, we’re less magnetic than sticky. Only 33.4% of current Texans are from other states. That ranks us 34th among the states. However, PEW conceded that this percentage is low in part because migrants from other states are offset by the large numbers of Texans staying put.

Their research notes that Texas’ “net migration” (the number that moved in minus the number that moved out) in 2005-2007 was about 1.8% of the population. That rates us about 11th of the states. However, that underestimates the degree of change. If you count the total number of people coming and going to and from Texas it totals to about 12.3% of the state’s population. Also, this study only examines only internal migration and doesn’t include people from other countries.

By the way, a related study from Pew showed that about 405 of Americans live in the community that they were born in and 57% have never lived outside their home state. It seems that a few Americans do a lot of the moving with 15% of Americans having lived in four or more states. (State-level data is not available in that report.)

It’s a safe bet that while Texas continually changes, new Texans are moving next to native-born who may never move outside the town they were born in. This is especially evident here at SFA where many of our students come from families that have lived in the area for generations. Many have not even traveled very far and may not have even vacationed much beyond Dallas/Fort Worth.