Republicans are Racist? Look to the States—Texas and Immigration - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Republicans are Racist? Look to the States—Texas and Immigration

This is the second part of a four-part series about how Republican governors are proposing innovative ideas that help minorities. As I’ve explained here, this is a vigorous response to Sam Tanenhouse’s “Original Sin: Why the GOP Is and Will Continue to Be the Party of White People.”

“…they look through that old Declaration of Independence, they find that those old men say that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. And then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men.” –Abraham Lincoln to a group of immigrants, 1858

Republicans confront the issue of immigration with a view towards both national sovereignty and free market opportunity. With these foundations, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and his administration presents the nation with two planks of immigration reform; these reforms will benefit the many who immigrate to our nation, especially those of Mexico and Central America.

A Warning About the Welfare State: Texas’s Dream Act

As Abraham Lincoln, our Grand Old Party’s first president, explained to those immigrants in 1858, citizenship means understanding the ideals of our Founding Fathers. The nation trusts its citizens to govern themselves and to physically realize the self-evident rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The acquirement of private property through self-reliance helps to fulfill this dream of liberty.

Gov. Perry, with his policy of college education for undocumented students and enhanced border security, along with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples’s guest worker program, presents a viable Republican road to reform.

In 2001, Perry signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Texas colleges and to receive state financial aid. As he explained to The Huffington Post in 2011:

And we decided as a state in 2001 that to deal with this population we had one of two choices: we could either kick them to the side of the road and say we’ll deal with you as a tax waster, or we’re going to give them the opportunity to pursue citizenship, to pay in-state tuition… and be part of an educated workforce.

While Perry has allowed students to apply for state financial aid, Texas has taught the national GOP that, as Joshua Trevino of the Texas Public Policy Foundation explained to me, “If you want to create an atmosphere of pragmatic solutions, curb the welfare state.”

Congressmen such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Rand Paul are working to do just that. However, Texas has also given the national GOP two platforms that it should incorporate into any immigration reform bill.

The First Foundation: Border Security

While Perry did receive some flack for subsidizing undocumented students in the Republican primary, he can also point to his border security operations manifested in Operations Linebacker and Drawbridge. These border initiatives focus on securing parts of the border that the federal government has neglected.

Linebacker, started in 2005, provides funding and manpower to local law enforcement along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Perry signed Operation Drawbridge into law in 2011. It utilizes portable cameras to detect movement along the border; according to Josh Havens, Perry’s deputy press secretary, this program has helped to detect 18,500 movements on the border, leading to 7,670 apprehensions and the seizure of 42,490 pounds of narcotics.

“Gov. Perry remains adamant that securing the border must be the number one priority of any immigration plan, and it must contain an iron-clad commitment to upholding the rule of law to ensure that those who have violated it are not rewarded for their lawlessness,” Havens emphasized.

This legislation preserves the rule of law by defending America’s borders, ultimately helping new citizens and new legal immigrants.

The Second Foundation: Conditional Status, Proof of Employment, and Citizenship Application

To help reform the immigration system, Commissioner Todd Staples has proposed a guest worker policy to solve our illegal immigration problem.

Half of Texas’s construction workers are undocumented, while Dallas and Houston both have more immigrants per capita than Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Chicago. As the state with the second-most immigrants in the nation, Texas realizes the need for expansion of employment visas both for low-skill and skilled workers.

“For real immigration reform to take place, we must establish a policy that secures our borders, enforces existing laws and implements a Penalty Not Pardon plan,” Staples wrote in an op-ed.  “We also must revamp our failed visa system for guest workers and international day laborers, and modernize our ports.”

Specifically, he advocates the establishment of a “temporary, six-month, conditional status.” During “this period, we should require a candidate for legal resident status to pay a fine, submit to a criminal background check and secure verifiable employment.”

Those who surpass these hurdles will be granted an employment visa; for anything more, immigrants will have to apply for citizenship from their home countries. 

These foundations provide innovation and a sufficient starting point for conservative immigration reform. Both these men are Republicans in a solid red state; while one supports border security, the other supports an expansion of the visa system.

Again, much like Gov. Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican and his administrative body (agriculture commissioner is an elected position in Texas) is advancing reform to expand opportunity for all groups of people, minority and majority.

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