UHV student concerned use of ‘illegal alien’ by area law enforcement could keep young professionals from wanting to stay in the Crossroads

VICTORIA, Texas – Part 2 of Noncitizen, a 25 News Now Extra examines why area law enforcement leaders continue using the term “illegal alien” instead of “noncitizen,” as President Joe Biden ordered federal agencies to do so earlier this year. 

When we first started working on interviews for this series, we spoke with Emett Alvarez, a leader in the community.

Alvarez said the term, “illegal alien” is offensive and unnecessary and should be replaced with something more humanizing. 

“They may be family members that they are coming to visit or vice versa, we have to treat that human life with dignity and respect,” Alvarez said. “If we did that, we could honestly say we’re Christians.”

We also interviewed Jackson County Sheriff Andy Louderback about why the term was being used in social media posts alerting the public about an increase in bailouts. 

He said it’s not meant as racist or derogatory, it’s simply the term used in the law books. 

Sheriff Louderback is one of the three original founders of the Texas Sheriffs’ Regional Alliance, he recently hosted a town hall featuring Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton about the increase of bailouts in the area. He was also photographed with Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a social media post where the governor thanks Louderback for spreading awareness on the issue, sharing the state plans to spend $1 billion to beef up border security. 

Although the town hall in Inez was sponsored by the Jackson County Republican Party, Sheriff Louderback said the bailouts should not be a political issue. 

“When you politicize the border,” Louderback said. “Our national border with a foreign country, then really all we’ve seen is negative.”

At another town hall in Victoria County held a few days earlier at Son Valley Ranch, Louderback asked attendees to make noise to keep from being silenced when it comes to border issues. 

“Get loud, get loud and we do it peacefully,” Louderback said. “But you show up and you get engaged every time you can. You start by getting your Republican party built up with like-minded people and you win this thing back.”

We asked Victoria County Sheriff Justin Marr how a concerned Democrat should get involved. 

“Like, I said, this shouldn’t be a party platform, I would assume that someone that voted Democrat should still be just as concerned,” Marr said. “Washington has put the political party side to this issue, I work with Republicans and Democrats. I know plenty of them, they’re all fed up with it.”

We also spoke with a 27-year-old University of Houston-Victoria student, we’re protecting her identity at her request.

She said it’s hard not to interpret these town halls as political when alienating and dehumanizing language is used.

She said she wants Victoria to grow but has a hard time seeing young professionals wanting to stay in a community where its leaders use offensive language.

When she hears the term “illegal alien” she thinks of animals. 

She also said it’s part of the cultural rift between the campus life at the university and the community. 

UHV is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, which means they receive federal grant monies as long as at least 25% of its student population is Hispanic. In Victoria 47.8% of residents are Hispanic and 65.4% of Victoria I.S.D. students are Hispanic. 

Sheriff Marr said if the term changes officially through the signing of a new law, he would use the new term. 

“If the laws ever changed then I would follow what that says,” Marr said. “It’s nothing derogatory. An alien is just a foreign national that doesn’t belong here. It’s just a word.”

Go here for the first part of this series.