A Republican vying to become a Dallas County Commissioner says he’s not racist and is not anti-immigrant.
J.J. Koch sent a campaign email suggesting undocumented immigrants are to blame for problems facing the county’s middle class.
It all began with a report released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities which found rising poverty and racial inequality in Dallas County.
The group says Koch is making unfounded connection with their findings.
Koch’s opponent Vickers “Vic” Cunningham and LULAC are also crying foul.
Koch winded his way through northern Dallas County on his bicycle, knocking on doors of prospective voters in Lake Highlands.
The Dallas attorney says he’s ready to bring his straight talking style to the county commission.
“I happen to be from the Northeast so perhaps most of us sound like jerks because we tend to be a little bit more blunt,” he said.
Koch recently sent an email to approximately 13,000 residents in District 2, claiming the report about racial segregation, education and declining household incomes in the county failed to mention one factor.
“We do have a large amount of illegal immigrants, large population of illegals in our county,” said Koch. “As soon as I said what I said everyone: You’re a racist! And anytime anyone brings up illegal immigration you’re racist! You’re racist! If we’re going to have Republicans and Democrats and intelligent conversation about what really causes poverty and what really shrinks the middle class, we need all of the factors. The increase in home prices, the decrease in wages, one of the pieces is the increase of that that are illegal immigrants here and their drain on our system.”
Cunningham says he was taken aback when he was informed of his opponent’s email.
“I read that and was like disbelief,” he said. “Why he would make those allegations that have nothing to do with the report that he cited and it looked like he was race-baiting or bashing immigrants. It’s all for political gain.”
Rene Martinez, presidents of the Dallas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens or LULAC was quick to respond to Koch’s accusations.
“He doesn’t know the city, doesn’t know the county. He’s playing up to a particular base,” said Martinez.
The Hispanic leader also pushed back against Koch singling out Hispanics, the county’s largest minority group.
“There’s undocumented which are in the minority,” said Martinez. “There’s immigrants which are documented, they’re large. And then Latinos like myself are first, second and third generation who are the majority of the population group.”
It will ultimately be up to voters to decide who will move Dallas County forward.
“Too often political correctness absolutely gets in the way of being honest about how we’re going to get things done for real people,” said Koch. “This is not to say through any of this that I’m one of those individuals that’s for packing everyone up and kicking them out. I think that the federal government needs to find a solution where everyone stays in place, that we’re fair and humane in that regard. We’re not going to split families up. We need to make sure that DACA gets put back in place and we should even expand that program.”
“The voters have got a very clear choice, do they want someone who is going to be constructive and productive for Dallas County,” asks Cunningham. “I’ve got 30 years experience in criminal justice…I bring all this experience to the table and he has none.”
The Center for Public Policy Priorities also stated that their research found the decline in incomes is due to an increase in jobs that tend to pay less and that there is a long history of people of color being paid less even when performing the same job.
And when it comes to taxes, undocumented immigrants pay about $1.5 Billion in state and local taxes every tear.
As of 2014, there were an estimated 475,000 undocumented people living in Dallas County, according to the Pew Research Center. That is about 7 percent of the total population.
The runoff election will be on May 22.
The winner will advance to the general election in November.