Texas Lawmakers are Helming the Nation's Immigration Debate

The state’s 26 Republicans have been on Capitol Hill, attempting to unify one plan for the country’s immigration laws. But the opinions of the Texas lawmakers can be as diverse as those of the entire nation.

While Texas Senator Ted Cruz is one of the many vocal critics of the Senate bill (he has called it “a disaster” on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show), Messrs. Carter, Cornyn and Johnson have stated that they believe the bill is workable, though they want to push for stricter border-security measures. Many GOP colleagues have been asking for a set of individual bills which together would patch together a comprehensive plan for the immigration system.

Immigration reform is an ongoing political issue for Texas, due to the population issues, say Texas immigration advocates. Non-Hispanic whites are in the minority in Texas, one of just four U.S. states in which that is the case. Texas has close to 2 million undocumented immigrants within its borders, behind only California. According to state GOP leaders, the demographics of Texas were the leading factor in pushing Texan Republicans to helm immigration issues long before those in other states where it is not as pressing of an issue for their own state’s constituents.

Last June, the Texas Republican Party altered its platform, removing the call for automatic deportation for undocumented immigrants, drafting a comprehensive temporary-worker program.

While Mr. Cornyn has pushed for an amendment containing such a strict border security plan, some Democrats have said its inclusion would cause them to lose faith in the bill. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry has stated in an interview that he believes a more serious effort to secure the country’s borders would help the general population put more faith in Washington’s stance on immigration.

Senators Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R., N.D.) injected a compromise amendment to the Senate bill. Known as the “Corker-Hoeven version,” the revised bill retains most of the language of the one drafted by the bipartisan Group of Eight, with an additional 119 pages, including a proposal of funding for at least 700 additional miles of fencing, aerial surveillance of the area and twice as many border patrol agents as planned – from 20,000 to 40,000. These additional amendments will add significantly to the estimated $6.5 billion border security budget.

Next, the 1,000-page immigration Bill, S.744, goes to the House.

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