On Jan. 28, Austin Mayor Steve Adler was set to give a speech about a perennially sore local issue: the cost of housing. But the night before, President Donald Trump’s first travel ban sowed chaos around the country, and Adler, struck by the reports of refugees stranded at airports, pivoted from his prepared remarks to champion his city’s values in the face of the administration’s sudden clampdown.
“Immigrants are part of who we are and who we have always been,” Adler declared. “The world can completely lose its mind, and we’re still going to be Austin, Texas.” His audience responded with a standing ovation.
For Adler, those were words to live by in 2017, a year marked by an intense Republican-led effort to reshape U.S. immigration policy. Yet even as Texas lurched further to the political right this year — passing a show-me-your-papers law in May aimed at punishing policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement — the soft-spoken mayor emerged as one of the fiercest defenders of immigrants’ rights in his state. Continue reading