A billboard that reportedly sprung up in Los Angeles and San Francisco this week warned Californians against moving to Texas with an ominous reference to the Uvalde school shooting.
The billboard, whose creator remains a mystery, claims that the so-called “Texas Miracle” died in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School were fatally shot in May. The “Texas Miracle” is a term popularized by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 to highlight the state’s resilient economy amid the Great Recession.
The billboard also referenced the statement “Don’t mess with Texas,” which started as an anti-littering slogan in the 1980’s before it evolved into a call of state pride.
The movement of Californians to Texas has been happening for years for various reasons, which mainly have to do with surging housing prices.
“In about 2018 to 2019, that’s when home prices in California really began to go up, a lot. And that accelerated people moving to Texas,” Bill Fulton, director of Kinder Institute for Urban Research, told KHOU. He himself moved from California to Texas.
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This exodus, however, became more pronounced amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, experts believe it has to do with looser health restrictions and better business flexibility. Gov. Greg Abbott and other conservative legislators also pushed for re-opening schools.
“I think COVID has exposed a lot of the weaknesses of the California model because people realize they’re not necessarily getting great services if schools can’t open for much of the year for in-person learning, for example,” Alexandra Suich Bass, a senior correspondent for politics, technology and society at The Economist, told the Texas Tribune.
“That’s why we’ve seen people opt to leave for Texas. To the extent that California’s leaders don’t grapple with some of the reasons why people are choosing to leave, I think it will hugely disadvantage California,” Suich Bass added.
From 2018 to 2021, about a million people reportedly applied for a new Texas driver’s license. The majority of them — 161,456, to be specific — came from California.
Interestingly, Asian Americans have been reported to make up the lion’s share of Texas immigrants. For starters, the state’s Asian population more than doubled between 2005 and 2013 to over 85,000.
“We’re seeing a big shift, a decline in Latin American migration into Texas and an increase in the Asian-born foreign population in Texas,” state demographer Lloyd Potter told the Miami Herald in 2017. “It’s increasing the diversity and cosmopolitan nature of our urban areas.”
By 2021, Asians made up 6 percent of the Texas population at a whopping 1.5 million. While most relocate for cheaper rent, others are attracted by the state’s family-friendly values.
“The Asian culture is very family-oriented,” Tom Ha, a Vietnamese immigrant, told NBC DFW. “And we rely on our own and we build our own systems up.”
Meanwhile, some Texans have expressed fears about immigrating Californians changing their culture. However, experts are not forecasting drastic transformations.
“People are moving to Texas for a better life, and they’re both Democrats and Republicans. So they’re not going to change Texas very quickly, if at all,” Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, told Spectrum News. “The in-migration barely holds Anglo numbers or white numbers in Texas steady. Most of the actual growth in the state is among Hispanics and Asians.”
“Ninety percent or more of the growth over the last two decades have been among Asians and Hispanics, so people moving in are not going to change Texas very much at all.”