Last Thursday, the Clear Lake Tea Party (CLTP) and a few other invited activists sat down to a teleconference call initiated by Commissioner Todd Staples. It was his intention to reach out to tea party activists about the upcoming fight over the “Texas Solution” immigration plank prior to next week’s RPT convention. It made sense that Commissioner Staples would reach out to the CLTP since their Executive Board had endorsed him during the Lt. Governor’s Primary campaign.
Commissioner Staples expressed to the grassroots on the call, dissatisfaction with the “Texas Solution” plank in the 2012 Republican Party of Texas Platform and proposed a new “Border Security and Legal Workforce Reform” plank. Staples wanted to coalesce grassroots support behind the newly proposed immigration plank and manage the platform fight. He claimed that the proposed plank addressed all the earlier issues with the “Texas Solution” and would be the basis for resolving the flood of illegal aliens crossing our southern borders. It was his assumption that if the conservative grassroots and most establishment Republicans could get behind this new plank then a messy, contentious platform fight could be avoided.
Unfortunately, that was not a correct assumption and the tea party activists were having none of this. The shock on the faces of those on the CLTP end of the conversation was profound. Here was a former candidate for Texas Lt. Governor who had made border security one of his high-profile campaign issues championing an immigration policy that made no sense to those involved in border security issues. In reviewing the proposed plank, it became immediately apparent, as one activist put it, “This is nothing more than an erudite re-writing of the Texas Solution.” As with the Texas Solution, this new plank is a “market-based” approach to illegal immigration. Again, what is being proposed is a “guest worker” solution that would end illegal immigration if we can just give enough guest worker visas to all who sought them. It is incomprehensible to those who care about their State and their country to see the grand Republican solutions to the human tragedy and national security of illegal immigration centered on “cheap labor.” With approximately 40% of Americans dropping out of the job market, we are being asked to support more jobs for non-Americans. Although the proposed 2014 immigration plank intends to provide protection for American workers through a reformed visa system for which hiring foreign workers would cost more in visa fees than hiring Americans, there was no answer to the question of why would businesses pay more for a foreign worker visa when they can hire cheaply under the table just as they do today.
As the discussion turned to border security, we were further distressed to see that border security is addressed only in the vague and indeterminate language found in the original 2012 Texas Solutions plank. We made it clear to Commissioner Staples that the issues of border security and immigration reform must be addressed as two separate issues. While Staples initially agreed with this premise, it soon became apparent as we drilled down into the issues that he really did not agree on this point. He indicated that there could be no movement on border security without immigration reform (otherwise known as comprehensive immigration reform). We challenged the Commissioner that his proposed border security and immigration plank only addressed the issue from an economic perspective in that all border violators were economic immigrants looking to provide for their families rather than the true scope which includes drug cartel members, multi-national gang members, criminals, drug smuggling mules (willing and forced), human traffickers and their victims. How can the Republican Party gain respect in the Hispanic and Asian communities if all that is talked about is “cheap labor” and not the sickness that plague their communities. Consequently, we were told by Commissioner Staples that it was impossible to “close” the border. He said the 2000 mile border (really 1200 miles in Texas) was unenforceable and that a “market-based” answer was the only feasible solution to minimizing illegal border crossings. Really, the ancient Chinese built the Great Wall of China to keep out the barbarian hordes, the Roman’s built Hadrian’s Wall to defend against the Picts, and the Israelis’ have built their security walls against Islamic terrorists. Even the USSR built an “iron-curtain” to keep people in. To say that America does not have the ability to close a border is ridiculous. We pointed out “Operation Strong Safety” which reduced illegal border by 80 – 90% showed that DPS could manage the border. Staples disparaged the DPS operation and claimed it wouldn’t work on a larger scale. Wow! We brought up the border fence and he said that ranchers on the border prevent a contiguous fence from being built because of individual property rights issues. He even said that he was against any Federal or State intrusion onto his property to police the border and protect our national security. At this point, one of our members stated that if a private individual would prevent our borders from being secure they could be considered “un-American.” At this point, we got a real rise out of the Commissioner who took offense at the implication. If you can take an individual’s property to put in a shopping mall, eminent domain should surely cover the land needed to put up a fence!
Finally, we noted that this new proposal goes even further than the 2012 version by adding language to provide so-called “dreamers” a path to citizenship and modernize legal points of entry rather than addressing all the illegal entry points. Although we did not directly address these issues with Commissioner Staples, this is clearly a direct call for amnesty for some illegals. Ostensibly, this language in the Republican Party plank directly codifies the Obama Administration’s stance regarding the children of illegal aliens. It is this very attitude that is causing the tsunami of children crossing the border illegally causing the Federal government to jump through hoops in order to feed and house these minors. The fact that policies such as this encourage illegal immigration – not discourage it.
Ultimately, while we are sure this conversation did not go the way Commissioner Staples intended it to go, it was extremely enlightening to the grassroots participants. We believe that this is an attempt to “manage” the upcoming Texas Solution plank debate with the Party leadership orchestrating a false dichotomy between two choices that are, in essence, the same. The question to tea parties, conservative grassroots, indeed, the Republican Party at large is what you believe in with respect to the questions of border security and immigration reform. Do you think that the Republican panacea to the immigration issue and subsequent electoral success resides in a “guest worker” solution? Do you think that border security and legal immigration reform are inseparable? Do you think that America cannot “close” its southern border? If you do, then support the Party leadership and business interests and back either version of the Texas Solution.
However, if you believe that the 2014 immigration plank is a continuation of moderate Republican policies that seek to appease progressives and big business, then you must join in the effort to rebuke this approach and provide a real Texas solution. If you believe that Texas border security must be the first step in solving the overall illegal immigration issue, then it is up to you to see that this is the lynchpin of any RPT Platform plank addressing this issue. Rather than offering platitudes regarding border security we should be offering real solutions for securing our border. These could include:
· Offering Federal block grants to States to protect the border
· Call for increased funding to allow the Texas DPS to expand the pilot program Operation Strong Safety to a permanent surge
· Close legal ports of entry until Mexico begins to police its side of the border
· Stop the promise of amnesty
· Ask the Federal Government for an accounting of all illegal aliens captured on Texas soil.
But what can the grassroots do with the convention so close? First of all, immediately begin contacting your Senate District 2014 Temporary Platform Committee members and find out if they support the Texas Solution or not. See file below. If they do, begin organizing your convention delegates to vote in a different Permanent Platform Committee member who is against the plank. At the convention, elect SREC Committeemen and Committee women who stand against this approach. Encourage all to change the language from economic migrants to the true bane of illegal immigration that is manifest in drugs, crime, and human slavery. And finally, confront our politicians and candidates regarding their support or non-support for the Texas Solution. These are men and women of standing within the Republican Party and should not shy away from making a stand that so divides us today. Many of them have made promises to get elected or gather in the Party nomination. They can influence the outcome regarding what is in the 2014 Republican Party of Texas Platform. Ultimately, this is on you, the Texas activist, to decide what message you want to send to the rest of America.