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Will Ken Paxton’s Latest Attack on Dreamers Hurt the Bids of Texas Cities for Amazon’s HQ2?

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An insightful piece by the Dallas Morning News business columnist Mitchell Schnurman asks: will the outrageous lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton end up hurting the bids of Austin and Dallas to recruit Amazon’s second corporate headquarters? According to Schnurman, “We have a lot on the line with Amazon, and Paxton just complicated our closing argument. Being hostile to immigrants — undocumented or otherwise — is not a pro-business plank.”

The column is another reminder that Paxton’s anti-Dreamer lawsuit and the anti-immigrant animosity promoted by leading Republicans in Texas is rebranding a state once known as welcoming. Governor Abbott led the way on the enactment and implementation of SB 4, a state law that encourages racial profiling and mass deportations. Now Paxton is targeting Dreamers. Meanwhile, this rebranding is aided and abetted by silence of other Republicans in the state.

Once upon a time, leaders such as George W. Bush and business groups such as the Greater Houston Partnership spoke up for a Texas that welcomed immigrants as critical to the state’s prosperity. But with hardliners such as Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz in power, and with a state GOP that has gone over to the dark side, today’s silence is deafening.

We suspect Amazon will, indeed, take notice.

Below, we excerpt Dallas Morning News business columnist Mitchell Schnurman’s new column “Texas AG Ken Paxton just made it harder to attract Amazon HQ2”:

“Does Amazon need another reason to knock Dallas off the list for its second headquarters? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is doing plenty to hurt our chances.

This week, Paxton filed a lawsuit to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that offers temporary status to unauthorized immigrants who grew up in America and finished school here. Six states joined the suit.

Like hundreds of other companies, Amazon is a big supporter of the so-called Dreamers. Last fall, Amazon was among the marquee names that signed on to a multistate lawsuit to keep DACA in place. In January 2017, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also opposed the travel ban ordered by President Donald Trump.

“We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years,” Bezos said at the time.

That history is relevant because Amazon is now evaluating bids to host a second headquarters, known as HQ2. It plans to eventually invest up to $5 billion and employ 50,000 high-paid workers, a bounty that set off an intense competition to land the prize.

Amazon received offers from 238 locations and chose 20 finalists. Dallas and Austin made the cut, but the other six states that joined Paxton’s suit don’t have a city on the list.

We have a lot on the line with Amazon, and Paxton just complicated our closing argument. Being hostile to immigrants — undocumented or otherwise — is not a pro-business plank.

And attacking DACA, which is already being contested, reinforces some of the worst impressions of Texas: that top elected leaders are intolerant and unwelcoming — and willing to go after a vulnerable minority to score political points.

…Dreamers have a great deal of public support, in part because they arrived here as children and have made positive contributions. An estimated 1.3 million residents nationwide — and more than 63,000 in the Dallas area — are eligible for DACA. They earned almost $20 billion in income and contributed roughly $3 billion in taxes in 2015.

Almost 800,000 signed up for DACA but an estimated half a million did not enroll. Some didn’t have the documentation and others feared they could become targets for deportation

…“DACA recipients are vital to the future of our companies and our economy,” the Texas Association of Business wrote in a letter to the Texas delegation in September. “With them, we grow and create jobs.”

Congress’ failure to fix the law jeopardizes the livelihood of Dreamers and “the economic underpinnings of the state,” the Dallas Regional Chamber wrote to lawmakers in February. “The expiration of DACA would be a significant loss for North Texas,” the letter said.

…More than 93 percent of the Dreamers in the Dallas area have jobs, according to New American Economy. They earned $860 million in 2016 and paid $72 million in state and local taxes. Many work in tourism, retail and construction.

Over 800 CEOs and executives signed a letter calling for a legislative solution in Washington. They cited the Dreamers’ contributions to the nation’s GDP, Social Security and Medicare, and said they’re vital to their companies’ future and the economy.

“They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage,” the letter said.

It was signed by leaders from some of Dallas’ largest employers, including AT&T, Walmart, General Motors, PepsiCo, Microsoft and, of course, Amazon.”