AUSTIN (KXAN) — The immigration debate is taking center stage on the south steps of the State Capitol Thursday night. Hundreds are expected to turn out for a candlelight vigil to show lawmakers the vital contribution immigrants make to the Texas economy.
The vigil was prompted by Senate Bill 4, which would prohibit sanctuary city policies. While this type of legislation has come up during past sessions, the immigration advocacy group, Immigrants United, who is holding the vigil, says they are concerned this session with how quickly the bill is making its way through the Senate.
Their main pitch to lawmakers to stop SB 4 is the economic contribution the 4.5 million immigrants living in Texas make. Out of that number an estimated 1.6 million immigrants are undocumented.
“As taxpayers, business owners, and workers we contribute to the economy and Texas’ success story and show we are going to fight for dignity and respect for the millions of immigrant families in Texas,” says Luis Ortega, Executive Director, Immigrants United.
In 2010, Texas collected $178 million in property taxes and $1.4 billion in sales tax revenue from undocumented immigrants.
A report released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in March 2016, a conservative think tank based in Austin, found in 2010 Texas collected $178 million in property taxes and $1.4 billion in sales tax revenue from undocumented immigrants. The report also states the primary draw immigrants have to Texas is for jobs.
However, a report released by the Texas Comptroller’s office in 2006 found undocumented immigrants cost the state millions in healthcare costs and education. The report states it costs the state more than $57.9 million in healthcare and $957 million for public education.
The Travis County Republican party believes there needs to be a law on the books that clarifies a path to citizenship and what happens if you aren’t here legally.
“We should be able to light a candle right there along with them but unfortunately politics gets in the way and this isn’t about human rights it’s about politics and so we would like to remind them that this is a problem we both face both sides Republican and Democrat and we need to work on solutions together,” says Andy Hogue, Communications Director.
Right now SB 4 is awaiting debate in the House.
Thursday night’s vigil takes place at 6:45 p.m. on the south steps. Austin City Council member Greg Casar and State Representative Gina Hinojosa are expected to be there.
Kate Weidaw is live with both sides of the immigration debate on KXAN TV from 4:30 to 9 a.m.