Texas GOP’s Change in Immigration Stance is Deeply Troubling to Hispanic Republicans

Note: This column originally appeared on The Quorum Report. Join us there daily for coverage of Texas politics and government. 


These signs were passed out by the Dan Patrick campaign on the floor of the Texas GOP convention in Ft Worth.

FORT WORTH – On Friday, Harvey Kronberg wrote that this convention was one of the least angry Republican Party of Texas gatherings in years. Make no mistake: That made sense when Harvey wrote it. But on Saturday, the delegates got their groove back and in spectacular fashion.

The Texas Solution on immigration, a modest proposal that includes a guest worker program, was compared to Nazi Germany’s Final Solution and any discussion of legal status for the undocumented was equated to negotiating with terrorists. Delegates throughout Saturday afternoon made it clear that almost anyone who could be considered “the other” is not welcome in the Texas GOP of 2014.

When the final votes were in, the Texas Solution had been stripped from the party’s platform and replaced with a new call for the Texas Legislature to take up a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” and Republicans have now made it a priority to end in-state tuition for undocumented students.

None of this should surprise any of us given kind of the rhetoric Sen. Dan Patrick has successfully used to secure the party’s nomination for Lite Guv this year. After some news outlets wrote that he has taken a softer tone on immigration – for the record, I have never said that – Patrick repeated a hardline stance here in his speech to the convention just hours before the immigration issue would be debated on the floor.

Patrick’s campaign also distributed these signs that show a fence with a padlock and the phrase “Secure our Border.” Interestingly, that was after it came to light during platform committee meetings that Sen. Patrick’s campaign had pushed compromise language meant to bring the hardliners together with business interests who would like to see the party stick with a more nuanced position.

Nuance be damned. The floor fight was a sight to see.

Delegate Maria Espinoza, who has compared the Texas Solution to the Nazi’s Final Solution, told the thousands gathered in the convention hall that granting any kind of legal status to those here illegally would be tantamount to negotiating with terrorists. Instead of laughter, her comparison was greeted with thunderous applause.

The votes seemed to be fairly evenly divided throughout most of the process. So, when the rubber met the road, Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri decided to proceed with a roll call vote of the roughly 8,000 delegates on hand.

When it was over, one hardliner proclaimed: “Boom, the Texas Solution is dead.”


Norman Adams and Steve Hotze on the floor of the convention.

“What kind of message is that for Hispanic voters?” said Norman Adams, a Houston insurance agent who was part of the team that got the Texas Solution inserted into the platform in the first place. “As far as I’m concerned we’ve moved the party back 10 years,” he said.

Many Latinos in the party are discouraged.

“While I have tremendous respect for the will of the people and the direction of our Party’s grass roots activists, I am saddened today by the substantive elimination of the Texas Solution from the Party’s platform,” Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, told Quorum Report.

“Ronald Reagan taught us that we should aspire to make our party bigger and stronger by appealing to the compassion and humanity of all people. Today, I fear we have strayed from this precept and chosen the narrower pathway of divisiveness and exclusion,” Villalba said. “I remain a proud Republican and a committed conservative, but I shall adhere to Reagan’s principles and will continue to fight for thoughtful and common-sense immigration reforms.”

A young Latina who did not wish to be identified because she has worked on various Republican campaigns in North Texas said she wasn’t giving up on the GOP, but the events that unfolded on Saturday were “breathtaking,” as she put it.

“I’m going to see if my friends want to help Leticia Van de Putte,” she said, referring to the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor.

Copyright June 08, 2014, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

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