Business as Usual

Republicans in Texas have promised to pass strict immigration laws in the upcoming legislative session. They could do it—if the same old powerful interests within their own party weren’t standing in their way.
Illustration by Mark Weaver

One morning in early September, I drove through Tyler with state representative Leo Berman looking for undocumented immigrants. About half a mile east of downtown, we found a group of perhaps ten or twelve men sitting under a small hackberry on a grassy hillside in front of a doughnut shop. “Here’s the illegals right here,” Berman said. “If you’d been here about three hours ago”—when contractors and foremen cruised by in their pickups, searching for day laborers—“you’d have seen a mass of people.” These few stragglers in blue jeans and ball caps were the overlooked or unlucky, or maybe just the late sleepers. In recent years this corner has become the hub of a growing community of immigrants living in the northeast part of town. Berman pointed out the bright-orange facade of La Michoacana Meat Market across the street and a newly opened Mexican bakery nearby. “Michoacana” refers

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