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Executive Action on Immigration: The View from Texas

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Ben Philpott/KUT
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President Obama's likely announcement of an executive order to advance immigration reform could expand benefits for migrant workers, but Texas lawmakers at the legislature and in Congress could push back on the reforms.

Republicans in Washington and Texas are set to fight President Obama on his expected executive order on immigration. But how will the order affect life in the Lone Star State?

The biggest change would obviously be for the people who qualify for work permits the president is expected to announce tonight. Co-Director of the UT Law School Immigration Clinic Barbara Hines says not only will those people no longer live in fear of deportation, it should also improve their financial situation.

“Workers will have social security numbers,” she says. “They will have more ability to move into better jobs, earning more, spending more, which, of course, benefits our state in terms of sales tax.”

Hines says the people who would get work permits are already here, so there shouldn't be any increased cost to provide state services.

Bill Hammond heads up the Texas Association of Business, a conservative business advocacy group that has long called for changes to the country’s immigration system, including guest worker programs. But he says an executive order is the wrong way to make immigration policy changes, and could hurt the completion of important economic legislation being considered in Congress.

“This is a slap in the face to Congress and will diminish the prospects of agreements on many other things, like the tax-extenders, personal and corporate income tax reform, highway funding, on down the line,” he says.

Hammond also worries the move will provide a false hope to people granted a permit, because he expects either Congress or the courts to overturn the President's actions.

President Obama’s announcement of the executive order will be broadcast on KUT 90.5 FM or you can watch a livestream online here at KUT.org.

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