Contributed by Dale Huls
Texas Border Crisis Sample Narrative and Questions for Public Meetingsat the Federal, State and Local Government Levels
The unprecedented illegal immigration surge occurring at the Texas border has many grassroots activists and citizens concerned about the large influx of alien minors and adults flooding into our communities. Current holding facilities on the Texas border have been overwhelmed and this human tide is being shipped all over our State and across America. As we have seen, many other communities across America are rising up in protest as strangers without any ties to their cities, towns and neighborhoods are being dumped there by the Federal government. Here in Texas, we have lived with this problem for decades. While we have had illegal alien minors in our schools since the 1980s, our Independent School Districts (ISDs) have never faced a strain on their resources like they are facing in the next school year and the one beyond. We have all seen the clusters of illegals queuing up for day labor jobs on street corners and quick markets. We have visited the crowded emergency rooms in our local hospitals as illegal aliens seek non-emergency medical treatment. And we have heard or experienced firsthand the horrors of the drug trade, crime and human sex trafficking resulting from unrestricted illegal aliens activity in our State. However, all these problems pale with respect to the massive wave from Central America and China that is crashing upon our border. In other words, we haven’t seen anything yet!
The citizens and activists in Texas are asking the question “What can we do?” Many have called for massive protests and others have urged the people to lobby our Governor and lawmakers for a special session to address the crisis. Unfortunately, neither of these approaches is sufficient by themselves. Until the general public is made aware of the dangers facing our state and is sufficiently aroused to take action, the politicians will remain feckless and the crisis will continue to drag on until something vital in our culture and/or government breaks. Therefore, the answer is not with the politicians or even the activists who are pressing for real solutions. The answer is where it has always been…with the people!
It is the activist’s job to make sure that the general public is informed and engaged. So far, the Left has owned the debate thereby influencing a large swath of the public. They have successfully portrayed ALL illegals as poor immigrants simply looking for job (that Americans won’t do) to provide for their families. They have made “undocumented immigrants” a victim in the public narrative. On the other hand, conservatives who believe in the rule of law and the sovereignty of US borders are portrayed as “racist,” “heartless” and “mean-spirited”.
However, the conservative grassroots has a chance to change the narrative portrayed by the Left. No longer can the media ignore the reality at the Texas border and the resulting detention centers. The plight of the unaccompanied minors from the dangerous trip to the US border, the horrible warehousing facilities and the disease concerns of TB, chagas, and scabies have become daily fodder for the news media. For the first time, the grassroots are able to source the media in order to support our claims and fears regarding the mass illegal migration at our border. There are stories everyday regarding the outbreak of disease at holding facilities, children dying along the trip up north, and the massive distribution of these illegals into Texas communities.
The colossal scale of the border crisis has presented the grassroots with a unique opportunity to directly address the fallout of liberal policies that have led to this disastrous situation. Yet, we must be smart and effective in our messaging. The conservative grassroots cannot be perceived as racist, heartless and mean. In order to effectively educate and raise awareness of the general public, the grassroots must be able to express compassion for the plight of illegal aliens juxtaposed against condemnation of the liberal policies that maim, kill, and enslave men, women and children from these poor and ravished countries of origin. Additionally, we must also utilize fear as a driver in our messaging. The grassroots should challenge parents regarding the health and safety of their children from exotic parasites, diseases and violence from raped and brutalized illegal alien minors as they are thrown into our school systems and communities. The grassroots should inquire into the budgets and resources of Texas cities, counties, school boards, and hospital districts for the ability to cope with the large influx of illegal aliens. In other words, we should set a proper tone when addressing these issues in public. The grassroots SHOULD NOT be running up to the first available microphone and shouting for militia groups to arm themselves and head for the border. They should not be demanding that they “turn’em around and send’em back” in violation of US immigration law applicable to the Central American illegal migrants. The grassroots should not point fingers and “thunder down from on high” and preach blame and extreme measures to the very politicians they are looking to for solutions and action. If we do, the grassroots will play right into the hands of a hostile media seeking to make us the story rather than the true crisis.
No, what is needed is an urgent but calm effort to quickly persuade the general public, local politicians, school board members, and community leaders that there is a real threat to the people of Texas. The city council meeting in League City, TX was very instructive with respect to how this issue will be framed in the area of public debate. The city council proposed and adopted a resolution banning cooperation with Federal authorities seeking to establish federal detention facilities within League City. Opponents of this resolution were very passionate and at a basic human level very compelling in their arguments for children (and consequently against the resolution). These citizens spoke of fairness, compassion and Christian duty. They spoke of what made America great and a heritage of immigrants that our forefathers supported and encouraged. Very powerful stuff, in fact so powerful, that one of the political consultants panicked and began texting a councilmember to “table” the proposal on the grounds of language cleanup in order to “salvage” the proposal from total defeat. Good thing the councilwoman stuck to her guns! But this is a very good example of how powerful arguments will be made in the border crisis debate. It is clear that the open border, pro-illegal immigration supporters will be using their compassion for children as their main argument while dismissing the fact that unaccompanied alien children (UAC) only account for 20% of all border crossers.
Grassroots activists of all stripes SHOULD be attending every school board and PTA meeting, every city council and county commission meeting, and every State and Congressional town hall meeting to simply ask relevant questions and demand answers. However, before any activist stands up in a public meeting to address the Texas border crisis, they should take a minute before they begin asking questions to set a brief narrative that supports compassion yet frames the discussion in broader terms. It is recommended that the following points be incorporated into a beginning narrative:
1. My heart goes out to all the children involved in the massive flow of illegal aliens to the United States but I refuse to be a party to the enabling of policies and behavior that contributes to the mutilation, rape, brutalization and even death of children attempting to reach the US border in their belief of amnesty.
2. I cannot bear the thought of human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution, child pornography, and indentured servitude.
3. I am not prepared to spend our limited budgets and resources to fight an unrestricted drug trade and multi-national crime as the result of US border and immigration policies.
4. I do not want to see the health and safety of our own children, seniors, and communities suffer at the expense of pro-amnesty, open borders ideology promoted by the Left.
5. My issue isn’t with illegal minors, but with a federal government whose policies promote horrors upon the “trail of tears” for which these people are lured from their own countries. My issue is with a US government that entices illegal immigration with a veiled promise of amnesty. My issue is with a federal government that packs kids into detention centers in conditions worse than prison. My issue is with a federal government that bypasses State and local governments, who fires agents, medical personnel and care givers who speak out about detainee conditions, and censors media in the name of “protecting” the children above the right of the people to know the truth.
This and similar narratives will set a baseline tone the media and other critics will have to overcome in describing pro-sovereignty and rule-of-law activists as racist, heartless, and mean-spirited. It removes a perceived anti-child bias from the follow on questions presented to the boards and councils.
After the activist has set a tone, they must ask relevant and leading questions to those officials leading the meetings. A Socratic method of education employed by the grassroots will foster credibility and therefore not be perceived as radical by the public and elected officials they are seeking to influence. Activists must ask questions such as: Do you know how many illegal aliens are being sent to our county, city or school? Are they being detained or set free within the community? Do we have enough Spanish speaking teachers to accommodate the large number of non-English speaking school-age illegal alien minors? Are our hospitals equipped or staffed to deal with a large influx of non-insured people who may be suffering from exotic parasites and diseases? Can our local law enforcement organizations deal with the expected rise in crime and drug use due to the surge across our borders?
It is by publically asking these and other questions that the grassroots can not only force the council member, commissioner, board member or representative to think about the questions posed but also raise the awareness of the general audience who is also listening to the question. The grassroots must approach these public meetings with the same goal in mind as that of a “push poll” seeks to accomplish. By asking reasonable and seemingly unbiased questions to public officials in these open forums, the grassroots seeks to highlight the very negative aspects of a totally unsecured border and raise awareness of the severe consequences associated with the current border crisis.
So what’s the plan? Most public meetings such as city council, county commission, and school board meetings only allow a limited time per person for public comment. The typical time these entities allow individuals to speak is three (3) minutes. With such a limited amount of time allotted to public comment, it is recommended that each activist set a tone and ask between 3 and 5 tough, leading and relevant questions. It is further recommended that the questions and additional variations be asked by more than one member of the public to give the appearance of broad support within the audience. Additionally, the more individuals present, the greater the impact of the local grassroots on these elected officials. The efficacy of this plan relies on a non-confrontational approach whereby reasonable questions concerning budgets, crime, health and safety are publically asked which, in turn, place our public officials on the spot. It is hoped that a desire to hear these questions answered from the audience will spur these local politicians to seek the answers and pressure higher level officials for those answers and ask for greater actions.
This document will provide a series of template questions that are loosely–based on the government entity for which they are expected to be asked. The government meetings the grassroots activists are encouraged to engage and ask questions related to the fallout resulting from the Texas border crisis are listed as follows:
1. City Councils and County Commissions
2. ISD School Boards
3. Congressional Town Halls (August Recess)
The following question sets have been developed to elicit a response based on the authoritative purview of each governmental entity. These questions may be modified or expanded depending on the local unique circumstances.
A. Example Question Set for City Council and County Commission Meetings
1) Does this Council/Commission have any advance information concerning any illegal immigrants coming to our city/County? Are there any coming here and, if so, how many?
2) Where are these illegal aliens to be housed or detained? Will there be any public debate offered regarding the locations chosen for housing illegal aliens?
3) Has the city/county enough financial resources to manage an influx of hundreds or thousands of non-English speaking, indigent people? Are the enough law enforcement resources, hospital and medical services, and other civic resources funded and available to manage illegal aliens re-located to our communities?
4) Does the city/county have a contingency/emergency plan developed to cover this specific scenario?
5) Will the care and services available to citizens in this city/county be affected by the sudden and large influx of illegal aliens?
[<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Additional talking points: Texas’ criminal justice system is based on cooperation and interaction between the state, local and federal governments. Local governments are the front line in the fight against crime, and they face the heaviest financial burden. Counties are responsible for many aspects of local law enforcement, detention, adult and juvenile prosecution; adult and juvenile indigent defense; lower courts (for misdemeanors); district or superior courts (for felonies); court clerks; adult probation; and juvenile probation and detention. Each county sheriff’s department is responsible for the operation of county jails, criminal investigations, and arrests of criminal offenders, warrants and civil papers, and the provision of bailiffs for all state courts. Texas counties have county and district attorneys as well as county and district clerks and elected constables. Each of these various offices can incur a cost whenever an illegal alien commits a crime. The district attorney (DA) represents the state in felony actions and criminal misdemeanors in county courts at law and justice of the peace courts. Most DAs serve a single county, although some serve more than one (typically in the case of rural areas). County attorneys try misdemeanors and juveniles while district attorneys try felonies. It was estimated in 2005 by the Texas Comptroller that illegal aliens accounted for $130 million in state incarceration costs. Additionally, local government and private businesses incur the largest share of health-related costs for illegal aliens in Texas. The state Indigent Healthcare and Treatment Act requires Texas counties to provide “safety net” services for indigent persons and others not covered by private health insurance or public health insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Texas law gives counties three basic options for delivering indigent healthcare, including hospital districts, public hospitals and county indigent health care programs (CIHCPs). All of these entities have a statutory obligation to cover a set of basic health care services including primary and preventative services designed to meet the needs of the community as well as inpatient and outpatient and nursing facility services. In 2005, Texas hospitals estimated that 1.3 billion in uncompensated care came from illegal aliens and of the 84,000 patients who visited primary care and free clinics, approximately 50% were found to be illegal aliens. It was estimated in 2005 by the Texas Comptroller that illegal aliens accounted for $58 million in state healthcare costs. Can you imagine what the costs must be today? Tomorrow?]
B. Example Question Set for Independent School District School Board Meetings
1) Do you know how many illegal alien minors will be attending the 2014-2015 school year? Has any Federal or State agency been in contact with the school board regarding the resettlement of school-age migrants in our school district?
2) Since the overwhelming majority of these school-age minors do not speak English and most likely are not at an age appropriate grade level, does the school district have enough bi-lingual teachers and staff to address the educational needs of these “new” students, as well as, the children from our own communities?
3) Since many of these school-age minors come from countries where violence is the norm or have been raped and brutalized on the trip to the US border, does the school district have enough mental health and counseling services to treat these illegal alien minors? Are there enough security services available in the district to protect our children should one or more of these brutalized minors become a threat to our kids?
4) We are hearing many horror stories regarding diseases being brought into the US by these illegal alien minors. There have been reports of lice, scabies and drug-resistant TB in the detention camps. Texas vaccinations for public school admissions do not screen for those previously listed, as well as, HIV, chicken pox, dengue fever, chagas, and even leprosy. What actions is the school district taking to address these unique health threats to our children? Are there sufficient medical resources and trained health-care staff in place to deal with any health threat to our kids that may arise?
5) It has been a struggle over the last couple of legislative sessions to ensure that there is adequate funding for the Texas education system. Many school districts have had to pass bonds in order to meet the current needs of our children. With the influx of a hundred, a thousand, and in some cases even more, does the school district have enough facilities and space to include these minors and ensure that the kids from our community are being adequately served?
6) Does our school district have a comprehensive plan to deal with the influx illegal alien minors into our school system with respect to budget, safety, health and security?
[Additional talking points: Until 1982, Texas law prohibited local school districts from using state funds to educate illegal alien minors; furthermore, districts were allowed to deny enrollment to such school-age minors. In 1982, however, the Texas law was deemed unconstitutional. In Plyler v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas law violated the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment. As a result of Plyler v. Doe, states may not deny access to public education to illegal alien minors residing within their boundaries. Subsequent court cases resulted in prohibitions against attempts to identify illegal alien minors because of the perception that they could then be discriminated against. As a result of the state school funding formulas, the cost ($7,085) of any student added to the enrollment of a local school district is borne by the state, regardless of legal status. Because the state system of school finance treats local property tax revenue as interchangeable with appropriated state funds, local and state costs are combined in the cost per student. The Comptroller’s office estimates that there were about 135,000 undocumented children in Texas public schools during the 2004-05 school year, or about 3 percent of total public school enrollment. The Texas Education Agency reports that, during 2004-05, the average state and local expenditure per student was $7,085 (this excludes federal funds). Applying this figure to the estimated number of illegal alien minors in public schools, the Comptroller estimates that the cost of educating illegal alien minors in 2004-05 was slightly less than $957 million. Can you imagine what the costs must be today? Tomorrow?]
C. Example Question Set for Congressional Town Halls during the August Recess
1) Does Congress have a full understanding of the Administration’s response to the immigration crisis occurring on the southern border of Texas? Have you visited or attempted to visit any detention centers? Have you been barred or restricted in any way towards discovery of realities on the ground?
2) Do you know where detainees are being shipped to in Texas? Do you know where and how many are being released in Texas communities?
3) Has there been any sort of analysis of the massive surge in illegal immigration with respect to Federal, State and local governments? Will our taxes have to go up to support this new “entitlement” class that does not have jobs or speak English? Do you know what the expected drain on State and local resources in your district are? What are the impacts to local civic welfare functions, law enforcement, hospital and school districts?
4) What is Congress doing to protect “whistleblowers” with respect to the border crisis situation? We note that agents, medical personnel, and care givers are being fired for speaking out about the border realities and conditions within the detention facilities.
5) What are the Republican/Democratic plans for dealing with this on-going problem via legislative initiatives? Will Congress have the will to exercise the power of the purse during this year’s budget debates?