By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Friday, Feb. 16, House District 45 Democratic candidates met at the San Marcos Recreation Hall to debate issues affecting the community. Candidates included Les Carnes, Erin Zwiener, and Rebecca Bell-Metereau.
Immigration was a hot topic of debate, revolving around how SB4, a bill outlawing sanctuary cities, affects the community. All agreed that the law was hurting Texans, not helping them.
Bell-Metereau suggested that we implement a policy similar to Canada, where they have a guest-worker exchange program with Mexico. Although the U.S. does have a guest-worker program, it is too bureaucratic and too costly, making it inefficient, says Manuel Cunha, the head of a growers group in California. Bell-Metereau argues that it would be worth the work to implement such a program nationwide.
“If we reach out to people who have agriculture workers or workers in different industries that are finding it difficult to get laborers, we can create pressure from Republicans who don’t see the value in this kind of persecution because it’s damaging their business,” said Bell-Metereau.
This suggestion addresses the issue of Republicans opposing views on immigration.
Bell-Metereau also argued that strict laws against illegal immigrants are hurting our communities. Less crime is reported, because immigrants are afraid to report crimes for fear of being asked for their papers.
Carnes agreed that the laws are ripping legal Texas residents off. He addressed the issue of immigrants not having drivers licenses because they can’t obtain them. It would be better to come up with a system where immigrants can be documented in some way so they are not driving illegally, and so they do not have to hide when laws are broken against them.
Zwiener says we need to provide easier ways for undocumented citizens to become legal residents.
“This law is a disgrace to our state,” said Zwiener on SB4.
She argued that Texas has a responsibility to protect its citizens and fix the broken immigration system.
Other points of discussion were public education, abortion rights, marijuana legalization, and the environment.
Carnes repeatedly showed distaste for the oil and gas industry, saying that once we stop providing subsidies for the industry, we can begin to protect our environment.
“Texans are addicted to oil and gas,” said Carnes, addressing why we choose to not take care of our environment.
Zwiener professed she was “unapologetically pro-choice”, arguing that the only people that should have a say in abortions are the parents, medical provider and anyone the parents choose to consult.
“Scare tactics that anti-abortion groups use are lies,” said Zwiener.
She suggested that an increase in sex education and more funding to Planned Parenthood would combat the issue.
All three candidates seemingly agreed that the Republican who currently holds the office, Jason Isaac, was not properly representing the community.
You can vote on Election Day March 6, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Featured image by Shannon Sampson.