Photo: House Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna was once an 'illegal alien'
When Ana Hernandez Luna was a toddler, she was brought to Texas from Mexico. Being carried across the U.S.-Mexico border, she became an undocumented immigrant. Today, she stands as a lawyer and a House representative.
On May 9th, shortly after the passing of House Bill 12, which looks to eliminate ‘sanctuary cities’ from the state, Hernandez Luna, 32, stood before other lawmakers and shared her not-so-secret, but not well known story.
“I know House Bill 12 already passed, and in the long run there is nothing that could have been done about its passage,” but still, she had something to say.
“Immigration and all that it encompasses is very personal for me because I was an undocumented immigrant,” Hernandez Luna said. “You may prefer to use the word illegal alien, but I’m not an alien. I am not a problem that must be handled. I’m a human — a person standing before you now as a representative for the Texas House.”
In a recent interview, the Democrat from Houston said, “I believe they have a perception of what an undocumented immigrant should be, and I don’t fit in that. And that’s why I felt it was important to share my story and put a face on the issue, and let people know we’re not just talking about criminals here who need to be deported.”
The bill, HB 12, which was later not passed in the Senate, would have made it illegal for local law enforcement to be prohibited from enforcing federal immigration law by determining the immigration status of those stopped for other offenses. Many have said this practice leads to racial profiling. Cities that prohibit officers from checking the immigration status were known as ‘sanctuary cities.”
Even after sharing her story and earning respect from fellow lawmakers, many like State. Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) remain adamant that being undocumented is breaking the law.
“She’s a real sweet gal,” said Riddle. “I admire the difficulties that she has overcome, but I still stand strong that we have got to protect our borders. We need to enforce our laws.”
“For every good story, there’s a bad story,” Riddle added. “There are a lot of people who are frustrated with rewarding those who come over here illegally and essentially penalizing those who abide by the laws.”
Still, Hernandez Luna points out that she, like many before and after were not looking for hand outs. They worked hard to get where they are. The state rep. recalled when she shared her story with fellow lawmakers in 2007.
She recalls Rep. Riddle saying to her afterwards, “You’ve been given a gift from God.”
Hernandez Luna said, “My response to her was, ‘I haven’t been given anything. My parents and I have worked very hard for everything I have been able to achieve and accomplish.’”