Texas Legislators File Get-Tough Bills on Immigration

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas lawmakers are poised to pounce on illegal immigrants when the next session starts in January.

They're filing a slew of get-tough bills -- including one designed to challenge the automatic citizenship of babies born in the United States.

That bill was filed by Republican state Representative Leo Berman of Tyler. It would bar the babies of illegal immigrants from receiving such state benefits as food stamps, health care or public housing.

Other proposals would:

-- Tax money wired to Mexico or Central and South America.

-- End a policy that lets undocumented college students qualify for in-state tuition rates.

-- And authorize the state attorney general to sue the federal government to recover money Texas has spent dealing with illegal

It's a noticeable change from the Legislature's typically less strident approach to illegal immigration. Just five years ago, the same body adopted the nation's first policy of charging immigrant students in-state tuition, rather than the more expensive international rate.

But since then have come months of bitter wrangling over federal
immigration reform and a subsequent heated campaign season. That has changed the tone of the debate nationwide.

Democratic lawmakers and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Latin American Citizens have vowed to fight the measures. They call them mean-spirited attacks that will prompt widespread discrimination.

Steven Camarota is director of research for the anti-illegal immigration think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies. It advocates strict immigration laws.

Camarota says he can't think of other states that have considered bills similar to Texas.