Immigration could be termed as the movement of people from one region to another. Texas is the second fastest growing state in the United States of America in terms of its population and this is because of the rate at which immigration is taking place. Though not in the same capacity as those that were migrating to the US, Texas when it was still part of Mexico registered quite a substantial number of immigrants. These people went there for various reasons and one of them was to acquire land, to avoid persecution while others went there simply to enjoy the atmosphere.
In Texas today, there are a lot of undocumented immigrants. These are people who live there and yet they are neither US citizens nor possess or acquire permanent residency. These people have become too many in Texas such that they are putting strain in the provision of services such as education, health and other facilities. How has immigration in Texas impacted in the provision of services and what measures have been put in place by the government? This research paper is going to dig deeper on the issue of immigration in Texas and try to assess how it has affected the residents of Texas.
It will also try to establish various steps that this government has put in place to check the rate of immigration.
Immigration in Texas dates back to 16th century when Texas was still part of Mexico. Very few colonialists wanted to live there as Texas was geographically a remote region besides, the native or the local tribes were very hostile to the colonialists. They would attack and steal their properties. This region was not yet under any colonial leadership but the Spanish leadership wanted this region to be settled by colonialists. In order to do this they had first of all to make it secure from the native attacks and when they successfully did so, they contracted a colonialist from the United States, Moses Austin to transfer 300 families to the region on condition that the immigrants would follow the Mexican laws and adhere to the Catholic faith. (Holtzman L. 265-67)
Unfortunately in 1821, Austin passed on and his job was taken over by his son Stephen. A colony was finally established something that attracted US immigrants in large numbers. One thing that greatly motivated these immigrants was the cost of land which was much lower than what an acre cost back at home. “The main attraction was land, which in Texas in the 1820s cost only ten cents an acre, compared to $1.25 for much lower grade land in the United States” (Stacy 417)
By 1827, there were about 120 000 Anglo Americans and this number exceeded that for Mexicans. The region was occupied by people with different interests for example; they differed in religious faith, cultural and even political stands. Most of them were from slave holding regions in US and thus they were not ready to give up slavery. For this reason, when the Mexican government abolished slavery, they ganged up against this it and managed to liberate Texas from Mexican leadership in 1836.
Though immigration in Mexico in the past was encouraged by the Spanish government, this has significantly changed in the recent past. The issue of immigration is nowadays looked at in a different light and has turned to be an issue that has polarized the Texas population. Texas today has the second fastest growing population after (Simcox et al 20) Washington. According to various surveys that have been conducted by different researchers, it is projected that if the rate of immigration continues to be like this, in the near future the immigration figures will be at par with those of the United States.
As per the collected statistics, about 3.9 million new residents have settled in Texas in the recent past. The fact of the matter is that of all these new residents, 36 percent are immigrants. Traffic jams, overcrowding in schools, increase in house rents, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources and the general deterioration in the quality of life in Texas are all attributed to the increase in the immigration rates.
According to the Federal for American Immigration Reforms (FAIR), between 1990 and 2000, Texas population rose by 23.3 percent. In the period between 2000 and 2006, the population increased again by 12.2 percent making the total population to be around 24 millions and this increase was attributed to the immigration rates. According to a 2005 survey that was conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of immigrants living in Texas ranged between 1.4 millions to 1.6 millions and these were the unregistered or illegal aliens. This made Texas to rank second in terms of the number of illegal aliens when compared to the US (FAIR)
Undocumented immigrants in Texas have led to the reduction of salaried individuals because job demands are higher than the available job opportunities. They have also made the cost of health provision to rise as well as overpopulation in schools. Texas government is concerned over this because these services are paid by state’s revenues although the services that the undocumented immigrants are entitled to are determined by the federal government.
According to FAIR’s report, the cost of education in Texas has gone up as well as that of health. The strain is particularly felt in the Council of government (COG) regions such as lower Grade valley, North Central, South Texas, Capital area and upper Rio Grade. According to a survey that was done in 2002, these council of government regions were inhabited by the ¾ of the whole Texas’ population. Of these people, 88 percent were foreigners and most of them were from Mexico and others from various Latin American nations.
The cost that these undocumented immigrants spend on education is not clearly known because there are some limitations that affect researchers from conducting objective researches. One of these limitations is that the federal government guidelines for public schools do not allow the legal status of students to be verified. Again an individual residing in Texas for educational purposes is granted state residency depending on the number of years one has spent there irrespective of his/her legal status.
“Immigration is playing a key role in this booming school enrollment. Throughout Texas, the impact of massive immigration is being keenly felt on school budgets. Furthermore, in 1982, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that Texas schools must educate all children between the ages of 5 and 17 living within a school district, regardless of immigration status. This further exacerbates an already difficult and expensive situation” (Martin and Bouvier 1995).
The number of students in Texas surpasses that of the teachers. As per the FAIR’s survey, in the period between 2000 and 2006 because of the K-12 enrollment program, there was an increase in the number of the students enrolled by 533,000. Using these figures, it was projected that by 2015, enrolment rate will have increased by 784,000.
Another thing that has affected the normal running of Texas’s education sector is the issue of multilingual children. This has led to the increase in the cost of educating the children. It is estimated that it cost fifty percent more to educate a child who cannot speak English when compared to the English speakers. Also cultural implications greatly impact on the education institutions. The government is left at logger heads on what to do to educate these different groups. The question at stake is, should Asian and Hispanic students be put in one English class or not? (Lumenthal R. 2006)
As desperate times call for desperate measures, teacher shortage as a result of high enrollment rate in Texas has forced the government to hire unqualified teachers and it should be noted that this compromises the quality of education offered. Texas government has set a law that shows the number of students one teacher can handle but this law has already been violated as the students-teacher ratio in Houston and Dallas has been exceeded the limit. To avoid the violation of this law, Texas government is forced to build two public schools per year while at the same time employing more teachers. (Stacy L. 61)
Texas government is also spending other money on jails and boarders which also puts a strain to the economy. In 2000, $108 million were spent on border protection and jailing immigrants. Texas government pays more than it is given by the federal government on providing emergency care, doing autopsies and organizing burial for these undocumented immigrants.
Another way that Texas has been affected by the issue of immigration is that land that would have been used for agricultural purposes is used to construct buildings and other structures. “Texas lost a total of 1.2 million agricultural acres to development between 1992 and 1997, almost double the race of loss during the previous ten years” (FAIR Report)
The areas that separate one city from the other are being filled by buildings at an alarming rate and this has already been witnessed in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonia. As more and more buildings are constructed, the remaining idle land is used as car parking which prevent rain water from sinking to the ground and replenish the ground water and this result to water shortage. According to a study that was done between 1970 and 1990, it was revealed that about 187.4 square meters of land that was idle was taken by urban centers. 65.1 percent of this encroachment is largely attributed to population growth due to illegal immigrations. In Corpus Christi, urban sprawl due to immigration accounted for additional 25.2 square meters while the general population growth accounted for 100 percent population increase and the same thing was witnessed in other metropolitans for example in Houston, San Antonio and in Mc Allen-Eden burgh mission.
In terms of air quality, most of Texas counties receive grade ‘F’ air according to a research that was done by the American Lung Association in 2005. This pollution is also attributed to immigration though this has no direct effects. Immigration has led to overcrowding in urban areas thereby putting strain to the city’s sewerage systems. These people force companies to produce more products to cater for the ever increasing demands. What this means is that a lot of poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide, dioxide and sulphur dioxide are emitted to the atmosphere. Again because of the increase in Texas population, forest lands are cleared and scientifically we know that trees purify air so, this encroachment to these areas has greatly undermined the presence of clean air in Texas. (Huddle)
Contrary to what other researches have shown that Texas government is finding it hard to provide health services to all, this is contradicted by another survey which was done by the Center for Immigration Studies. This research shows that provision of health care in Texas is still within the set limit. This is gauged by the rate of mortality rate in the country and in Texas it is estimated that the ratio of mortality rate per hundred births for the whites to blacks is 7.2 to 15.4 respectively. This does not exceed the corresponding national averages for the whites to blacks which is 7.6 to 18 respectively.
Massive immigration in Texas has altered the Texas ethnic composition and this is another impact of immigration. There are a lot of immigrants who have come from Latin America, USA and Africa but the rate of black immigrants is not as big as that of Latin American. The number of black immigrants is not well known as it is obscured by the rate at which other minority groups are growing but all in all, it has contributed to the disruption of the original ethnic composition in Texas. Most regions are occupied by the Mexican but some areas such as Dallas and Houston according to the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA), significant change in terms of this composition and similar and similar changes have been witnessed elsewhere. “Hispanic population increased from 12.7 percent to 20.3 percent. The Houston MSA witnessed an increase over 305,000 Hispanics 65% increase” over this decade, with the population share increasing from 15.1 percent to 20.8 percent” (Martin and Bouvier, 1995)
The issue of immigration is also affecting the transport sector. Free ways, railroad tracks, bridges and mass transits that have been constructed by the government have continued to deteriorate in terms of quality. The population they were meant to serve has now exceeded the limit. It is estimated that the number of vehicles by 2020 will be twenty three millions which is a sixty percent increase. This will lead to more destruction of the roads and other related infrastructures. This has left the government of Texas between a rock and a hard place because it is impossible to construct enough highways to keep up with the rate at which the population is growing due to immigrations. (Stacy L. 58-62)
Another thing that will affect this is that there is no room for roads expansion as the reserve land has already been taken by the ever soaring population. The suburbs are extending closer to the cities resulting to an increase in traffic jams due to choked highways. This transport problem has a domino effect on the state’s economy. Poor road networks hamper country’s economic growth as the cost of moving goods from one terminal to another goes up.
High rate of immigration has currently served as an awakening call to Texas government. It is coming up with bills that would see the current state of immigration being reversed. Texas government has increased its officers along the border line to control immigration. According to the associated press (2008), 99 illegal immigrants were arrested by the federal agents in its five day operation in North Texas. 58 of them were in the list of those that were supposed to be deported and twenty two were former convicts. Those arrested were immigrants from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua and Nepal.
Texas’ law makers have now filed bills that would see no immigrants being entitled to any public assistance, cut money transfer for immigrants to Mexico and to other Latin American nations. They are also intending to take the federal government to court because the money the state of Texas spends in their boarder control is more than what is given by federal government. Also farmers have adopted another strategy of controlling immigration. Farmers in Dallas are now fining landlords who rent land to the undocumented immigrants. (Lumenthal R. 2006)
The issue of immigration is something that has cost Texas State in terms of what it spends to cater for the undocumented immigrants. Initially immigrants were encouraged to go to Texas but that was when it was still part of Mexico. After American colonialists annexed Texas from Mexico, the same continued to happen. These immigrants have negatively impacted on Texas government. They are making it hard for Texas government to provide services to its citizens. They are again putting strain to the available infrastructure such as roads, railway lines, hospitals and schools. Texas government has devised a plan that would see the rate of immigration being reversed. Today there are so many pending bills that have been filed by Texas law makers; if they are passed no immigrant will be entitled to state services.
Associated Press. 99 arrested by immigration authorities in N. Texas. Oct. 10, 2008. Available at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6051787.html
Bouvier L.F. And Martin J.L. Shaping Texas: The Effects of Immigration, 1970- 2020. Center for Immigration studies. 1995. Accessed at http://www.cis.org/articles/1995/texas.html
Federation for American Immigration Reforms. (FAIR) Immigration Impact. Available at http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_research79e6
Holtzman L. Media Messages: What Film, Television, and Popular Music Teach Us about Race, Class, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. Sharpe, 2000.
Huddle, D., The Net Costs of Immigration to Texas. Carrying Capacity Network, Washington, DC. 1994.
Lumenthal R. 16th Nov, 2006. Texas Lawmakers Put New Focus on Illegal Immigration. New York Times. Accessed from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/16/us/16immig.html
Simcox, D, Martin and Jenks. The Costs of Immigration: Assessing a Conflicted Issue. Center for Immigration Studies. Washington., DC. 1994.
Stacy L. Mexico and the United States. Marshall Cavendish Press, 2002
Cite this Immigration in Texas
Immigration in Texas. (2016, Oct 15). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/immigration-in-texas/