That’s the Republican Party of Texas.
When the Texas Republican Party made a guest worker program part of its 2012 platform, it was hailed as an important step forward for the party. The GOP needed to adjust itself, people said, to appeal to a new generation of Texas voters, and reorient itself toward some kind of immigration reform package. The acknowledgement of the need for a guest worker program was a small move in that direction, but it was significant. So naturally, two years later, some Republicans want to strip it back out of the platform ahead of this year’s state convention in June.
As reported by the Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock [last] Monday, the Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams has been floating language that would strip the guest worker plank out of the party’s platform. Cathie Adams, as Phyllis Schlafly’s top lieutenant in the state, may seem like a marginal figure to some—she’s spent much of the last several years attempting to persuade tea party groups that major figures in the national Republican party and U.S. government are secret Muslims—but she’s also a former chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party, and she holds a lot of sway with tea party groups around the state.
Adams told Quorum Report that it’s a mistake for the GOP to have anything other than a hard-line position going into the 2014 midterms and 2015 legislative session. Her proposed language unambiguously rejects any congressional moves to address immigration:
THEREFORE BE IT IS RESOLVED that we reject any and all calls for blanket or incremental amnesty and encourage the enforcement of existing state and federal laws regarding border security, national security, immigration and employment.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who became prominently identified with the platform change, told Bloomberg Businessweek he was less than certain about his side’s success as he rose to speak in favor of the change. “Well, here’s the end of a political career,” he remembers thinking. But the platform did change. Supporters hailed it as a “bold step toward leadership” on immigration.
But it’s debatable how much that small shift is evidence of a larger one in the GOP. For one thing, it’s never presented as a humanitarian issue—it’s a business issue. The important thing is ensuring a steady supply of labor, not the welfare and well-being of the countless documented and undocumented migrants in the state. “I’m no bleeding heart; I oppose birthright citizenship,” Patterson said later. “But we need the labor.”
Scott Braddock has a copy of the QR story on his site; the Chronicle is now reporting on it as well. That story was published a day before the one-year anniversary of the national GOP autopsy that detailed what they needed to do to deal with demography and shifts in public attitudes going forward. So much for that. This is likely to be a good year for the GOP nationally, with an extremely favorable Senate landscape and turnout patterns that still favor them in non-Presidential years. But 2016 looms as the polar opposite for them, with a brutal Senate scene and the potential Hillary juggernaut. One way or another, they’re going to have to face up to reality. I suspect it’ll take more than one electoral thrashing for that to truly sink in.