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Texas Legislature Reverses Course On Immigration Laws

Audio

Aired 1/9/13

A figurative memo went out to Texas Republican lawmakers -- introduce no bills that will embarrass the party with Latino voters.

via Trey Martinez Fischer on Facebook

Texas Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer is chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

— The Texas legislature convened in Austin on Tuesday. The lawmakers gather once every two years. And in regard to cracking down on illegal immigration, the political pendulum swing is certainly in evidence this time around.

In January 2011, Governor Rick Perry gave the traditional opening remarks to the 82nd Texas legislature and he made it clear: He wanted a crackdown on illegal immigration. “We must abolish sanctuary cities in Texas," he said.

Perry told the lawmakers he was making an anti-sanctuary cities law an emergency item. He wanted a Texas version of Arizona’s SB 1070. Perry wanted police officers checking the immigration status of anyone they suspected wasn’t properly authorized to be in the country.

“We need to free up our peace officers to do their job keeping our families and neighborhoods safe. Immigration laws and their enforcement are the responsibility of the federal government we cannot compound their failure by preventing Texas peace officers from doing their jobs," Perry said two years ago.

Despite Perry’s push and the Republican majorities in both Texas Houses, the bill didn’t pass. So now fast forward two years later -- there’s the 83rd Texas legislature and Perry has another crack at passing a Texas SB 1070-type bill and … nada. What was an emergency two years ago is off the radar today. It didn’t get a mention in the governor’s opening remarks.

“Turned out there was very little enthusiasm for that legislation," said Charles Foster, a Houston immigration attorney who was a consultant to both the Barack Obama and George W. Bush presidential campaigns. "I think there was over one hundred so called anti-immigrant/sanctuary cities bills filed last time and not a single one passed last time.”

Foster said this time the Republican lawmakers have learned their lesson.

“Most of it was a complete waste of time to begin with because it was bound to be preempted by federal law and it turned out that was the case in U.S. vs Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled," he said.

And then there was that national election in November that sent shock waves through the Republican Party.

“Bush got 43 percent of the Hispanic vote. A much larger Hispanic vote today that was down to 27 percent for Governor Romney, but in the key toss up states like Colorado he was only getting 10 percent. So the handwriting is on the wall so unless the Republican Party can address these issues responsibly they are going to become a minority party in the state of Texas," Foster said.

So essentially a figurative memo went out to Texas Republican lawmakers -- introduce no bills that will embarrass the party with Latino voters.

But it’s going to take more than that to repair the damage done to the GOP brand in Texas, according to Representative Trey Martinez Fischer. He's chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

“They believe in English-only. They think Texas should not have pre-K education for its children, 65 percent of pre-K children are Hispanic. They want to make it a crime to be in this country illegally, And they want to repeal the Dream Act. I don’t think you can reach out to Hispanics if these are your values," Martinez Fischer said.

Martinez Fischer said the Texas Republicans are learning how to talk the talk, but they aren’t willing to walk the walk when it comes to serving Latino voters.

However, there are a record number of Latino Republican lawmakers in the 83rd Legislature in Texas, and they might be able to lead the rest of their party in walking that walk.

Comments

Avatar for user 'planetsaligned'

planetsaligned | January 20, 2013 at 6:53 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

They want to make it a crime to be in this country illegally? Is that a joke? Do these panderers really think that if they say that enough it becomes a true statement? It is illegal to be in this country illegal and these Hispanic politicians should be putting America first and not the illegals in this country just because he happens to be Hispanic.i believe they have a very clear agenda. They should stop playing the race card and stop forcing Americans to pay the way for the people of another country.

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Avatar for user 'Anon1'

Anon1 | January 20, 2013 at 7:45 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

It seems like we ignore how the United States came to be.... The natives didn't exactly pack up and leave voluntarily....

Now we complain about illegal immigration? What should they do, amass an army and come slaughter us instead? Why would it be unacceptable for them if it was acceptable for us?

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | January 21, 2013 at 11:20 a.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

"However, there are a record number of Latino Republican lawmakers in the 83rd Legislature in Texas, and they might be able to lead the rest of their party in walking that walk."

I'm reminded of a Texas-ism, fitting here. "Being Mexcian and being a Republican is like being a chicken and voting for Colonel Sanders."

Not like the Dems have done much either, no real choice here, but DEFINATELY not Republican. I don't get it.

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | January 21, 2013 at 2:47 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

I meant DEFINITELY. Oops.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 21, 2013 at 6:11 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

I think they are already "freed-up":

"A DPS Helicopter Sniper Kills Two Men on Border Highway
by Melissa del Bosque / Posted on Oct 27, 2012 / 3 Comments
First the armored boats with machine guns on the Rio Grande now helicopter snipers. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, seems bent on turning Texas border communities into Iraq.

On Thursday a DPS helicopter sniper-opened fire on a truck on a Texas highway killing two men and injuring a third passenger near La Joya in Hidalgo County, reports the McAllen Monitor. Texas Parks and Wildlife rangers were pursuing the red truck, which they thought contained a drug load and called for back up from a DPS helicopter. It turned out the truck was not carrying drugs but nine Guatemalan nationals and an unidentified driver.

What is especially disturbing about the shooting incident is the testimony from the survivors in the truck. Alba Caceres, the Guatemalan Consul General in McAllen told the Monitor that survivors testified the tarp had flown off the truck exposing the people in the pick up bed so that it was clear to the sniper the truck was transporting people, not drugs.

“I know my people are in the wrong crossing illegally and I know that the government of this country has to protect their border, but to shoot at unarmed humans is beyond me,” Caceres told the Monitor. “I can’t conceive how a police officer fires at unarmed humans. These are people from humble origins that even at first glance do not look like hardened criminals.”

The two deceased men were between ages 20 to 25; one was the father of two, the other the father of three, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Their names were withheld, pending official notification of relatives.

The nine Guatemalans travelling in the truck left the same city together on October 8, Caceres told the Express-News. Each had paid $2,000 to be taken from San Martín Jilotepeque in the state of Chimaltenango, Guatemala through Mexico, and then another $3,000 to be brought to the United States. Most were headed for jobs in New Jersey." -- Melissa del Bosque, TEXAS OBSERVER, Oct 12, 2012

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 21, 2013 at 6:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

Reality123, that saying is based on a false premise. Numerous Chambers of Commerce throughout the country favor a more practical and pragmatic approach to immigration, unlike their Nativist fellow party members. The Latina reporter, Helen Aguirre of Univision Radio, is a Republican and very anti-Obama, yet she is very pro-immigration.

It is the very same false premise like that one silly individual who stood up last year at a mayoral town meeting and asked of CDM: "if you are gay why are you Republican"?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 22, 2013 at 12:06 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Mission,

Interesting. So why do you think Hispanic reporter Helen Aguirre who "is a Republican and very anti-Obama" is still pro-immigration?

Why are Hispanic Republicans in general pro-immigration?

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | January 22, 2013 at 12:43 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

MA your right. I knew that even as I wrote it. Just frustration talking.

The Texas Observer story is apalling. Berlin?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 22, 2013 at 10:51 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

I can't speak for them since I am not one. The dumber Republicans probably because of some ethnic collectivism. The more pragmatic ones like the numerous Chambers of Commerce because they are more free enterprise and/or put economics ahead of divisiveness and/or xenophobia as well as seeing that punitive measures alone will NEVER solve anything.

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