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The failure of the U.S. Congress to deal with immigration reform prompted many local governments to craft their own responses to the presence of undocumented immigrants in their communities. The federal government’s lack of leadership led to local responses that ranged from protective to punitive. Although some states like Arizona went to the extreme to create a hostile environment for undocumented migrants, other states and local governments were much more moderate. Local responses to undocumented immigrants depended on a number of variables, including demographics, political leadership, economic forces, and historical variables. The state of Texas, like other state governments, produced its own response to undocumented migration, and many counties and cities in the state joined in the heated debates of the previous decade with their own ordinances. The final landscape was quite uneven, with somewhat generous initiatives mixed with others that were quite harsh. Texas’ response could be considered moderate when compared to other states. This paper explores state and local initiatives in Texas to explain why the overall environment in Texas remains moderate when so many other states have responded harshly to undocumented immigration.
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