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Díaz and Boas: Texas should get ready for backlash on immigration bill

As the border remains steeped in chaos, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is poised to sign a law that would make it a crime for a person from a foreign country to illegally enter Texas, among other hardline measures for migrants who come to the state.

It’s a law — dubbed SB 4 — that echoes Arizona’s own controversial immigration measure passed more than a decade ago, SB 1070.

And that means Texas should get ready for backlash, according to Phil Boas, a columnist for the Arizona Republic. Boas joined editorial page editor Elvia Díaz on The Show to about it.

Conversation highlights

So Phil, let's begin with you. I mean, we have been here before, right when it comes to this kind of immigration measure, what comes to mind for you first here?  Like as you have been watching this play out, what have you been thinking?

PHIL BOAS: Well, I, I was thinking back on SB 1070, how it was sort of a similar moment in Arizona when we tried to do that law, the, the tables were turning on illegal immigration and the there was growing demand that something be done about it. And so Arizona lawmakers sort of took it into their own hands to try to toughen up the laws and create laws that, that we could start to handle the problem here in Arizona. I think today we understand it was a huge mistake even in a favorable environment, which I think Texas is facing today.

I mean, there are, you're beginning to see now Democratic mayors and governors in the Eastern states and in Illinois are, are starting to scream at the White House telling them we need to do something about illegal immigration. It's where, it's out of control right now. But even then they should approach any kind of racially divisive local laws with, with real caution.

Elvia, I want to turn to you. You were obviously both here when 1070 played out and, and probably covered that, watched it happen. It was a huge deal in so many ways. Elvia, from your point of view, what was the biggest fallout from 1070?

ELVIA DÍAZ: Well, just like Phil said, I mean, because it just didn't target illegal immigration, but then there is the climate, right? Essentially, it made everyone brown a suspect, right? Because then police officers would have the authority to ask you essentially for your immigration papers. And then if, if they had reasonable suspicion or cause to think you were here illegally.

The same thing in Texas, right? It, it lets a police officer, you know, that has probable cause that a person has crossed illegally, you know, to charge the person or recommend charges of a class B misdemeanor. I mean, how do you know, how does a police officer know when he or she sees someone's driving? You know that that person is, is undocumented, right?

I mean, and it's the racial profiling part of it that angered so many of us, so, so many Latinos and so many other people and it's just absolutely unnecessary. And we saw that with SB 1070. I mean, most of the provisions are not in place here in Arizona and I'm guessing the same thing will happen in Texas.

I also want to talk about the, the national backlash that Arizona faced at the time and probably had economic ripple effects for a long time. T here were boycotts from, you know, entertainers, from people on all fronts, from businesses, people saying don't book a conference in Arizona. Those really, you know, had an impact too it sounds like.

DÍAZ: Oh, absolutely. And I think that's what Phil was also writing about here. So it was not, it was not just a national backlash, it was an international one, you know. Where Mexico essentially said this is not acceptable, we're not going to do that, you know. And keep in mind that Mexico is our No. 1 trade partner and by we, you know, I mean, in the United States as well, right? It is Arizona's, and it's Texas' as well. So if we are talking about an economic boycott, you know, Texas is in for a surprise, you know.

And the law itself, the proposed law itself is very problematic, right? So it's not just you stop someone and then, you know, a police officer goes through the probable cause, you know, it also says that the state can deport those people that are, are suspected of being here illegally back to Mexico. Well, it doesn't specify that those stopped from police officers will actually be Mexican nationals. So anyone who's in Texas illegally will be deported to Mexico. Well, Mexico doesn't have to take the people that are not from Mexico for instance.

And then, you know, if in fact, there is talk of economic boycott, then Texas will feel what Arizona did, you know, losing business and the hundreds of millions of dollars. And honestly, you know, probably that's what, you know, states like Texas and others, that's what they need to wake up and really recognize the importance of the Latino economic impact in, in the state, you know, and Mexico as well.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.