Immigration Reform and Texas: Why The Republicans Are Shifting Focus

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Why are more conservatives supporting immigration reform?

Many conservatives, writes author Steve Deace in, wonder why potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are supporting comprehensive immigration reform, better known as an “amnesty program” among most conservatives.

Deace says it’s all about Texas. If immigration reform by the Republicans does include the amnesty approach, that will allow some 40 percent of the national Hispanic vote to go to the Republican Party in future elections. But, if true, that would also tip some 1.5 million new Hispanic voters to the democrats, if the numbers trend continues. So, says, Deace, there is not much for the Republicans to gain by allowing immigration reform, unless the focus is on the state of Texas, which would be where the biggest Republican boost would originate.

President Obama won Florida, Ohio, and Virginia in the 2012 election, but his average margin was less than two points; indicating that those states may be a toss up for the next election. It is up to Republicans to work to regain those states in these next few years; if they lose Texas, all national elections will be lost to them as well. Texas, argues Deace, is the cornerstone of the next presidential election and imperative to the GOP.

Is it true? Might Texas “turn blue?” A survey taken in January by Public Policy Polling found that a number of Texans said they would vote for Hilary Clinton if she were on the presidential ballot in 2016. Clinton (D) would defeat Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) by 50 percent; she would beat  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) by as much as 45 percent, and she would beat Florida’s US Sen. Marco Rubio (R) by as much as 46 percent –  at least according to the survey results.

Demographics in Texas are shifting. According to the Hoover Institution, 65 percent of the state’s population boom since 2000 is Hispanic. Between 2000 and 2010, Texas added more than one million children to the census; 95 percent of them Hispanic. Hispanic children are the majority ethnicity of the almost 5 million children in public schools in Texas, as well as in pre-kindergarten and child care centers. Those children will likely grow up to be voters in Texas, and the Republicans need them. If Republicans cannot hold onto Texas, they would likely need to win 70 percent of the Electoral College votes in order to win the next presidency.

Only time will tell what new players may or may not be seen on Texas’s political stage, and what that means for the U.S.

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New Proposed Legislation In Texas Keeps Immigration Reform At the Forefront

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Immigration continues to be a polarizing topic for Texas.

The U.S. has close to 11 million undocumented residents as of January 2010, says the Department of Homeland Security. Texas is second in the country when it comes to the percentage of   undocumented immigrants: 1.77 million. California, with 2.57 million, has the highest rate in the U.S. But of those 1.77 million undocumented people, how many of them are going to school, or holding down a job, supporting family and loved ones, and working hard in numerous other ways to contribute to their state and local economy and community?

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” a group of senators in Washington, D.C., put together their proposed principles for immigration reform. The Gang, made up of Democrats and Republicans, suggests putting at the front of the immigration line people who have already applied to enter the country. They also recommend that employers work within a citizen verification program to weed out the hiring of unauthorized workers, and that the feds makes a concerted effort to speed up citizenship efforts for workers in U.S. industries where they would be sorely missed, such as agriculture.

President Obama has mapped out his planned approach to immigration reform, which includes streamlining the entire process, increasing border security, putting into place stricter penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers, pushing immigrants to learn English as a second (or third) language, and allowing the waitlisted to come in first. Texas lawmakers, meanwhile, have largely been silent, though bills that could be viewed as anti-immigration have been drafted: Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, supports a bill that would make it illegal to” transport an undocumented person.” State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, meanwhile, supports a bill  that would trigger a labor law violation report from the Texas Workforce Commission in the event someone employed an “unlawful resident alien.”

According to a 2012 University of Texas opinion poll, more than 75 percent of the people surveyed stated that they were in favor of stricter limits on immigrants coming to live in the U.S. Of those polled, roughly 62 percent stated that they felt Texas state and local police should have the option of routinely checking people’s immigration status during stops or in the course of other routine police work. Immigration reform advocates have stated that these polls show that Texas is in serious need of immediate immigration reform.

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