Good morning Austin:
On Saturday, Jared Woodfill, the former Harris County GOP chairman, spoke passionately before the Texas State Republican Executive Committee about why they ought to elect him the new state party chairman, succeeding Steve Munisteri.
I believe if we are going to be the party of the majority for 2015 and beyond, we are going to have to have a big, bold vision for this state. We’re going to have to be a party that stands for its party platform, that stands on principle, that is on the front lines every single day fighting for those core values and beliefs that we find in our party platform. I think I’ve proven that, I’ve proven time and time again that I’m not going to back down, I’m not going to run, I’m not going to surrender when it comes to standing up for our party platform. And I’ll tell you it’s not always easy, it’s not always easy. People in the trenches know that if you stand for something, you’re going to be attacked. When you stand against an Obama administration that’s trying to nationalize one-sixth of our economy, you are going to be attacked. When you stand up to protect our borders and against sanctuary cities and in-state tuition, you are going to be attacked, and against illegal immigrants getting better health care than veterans, you’re going to be attacked. When you stand for the Second Amendment and against an Obama administration that’s trying to outlaw ammunition for AR-15s, you are going to be attacked. But I welcome those attacks, folks. I welcome those attacks every single day because if we are going to be the majority party in ’15 and beyond, we are going to have to stand for something.
Woodfill did not prevail, though he did better than some expected, finishing tied for second in the four-man race on the first ballot. The leader on that first ballot, Tom Mechler of Amarillo, who clinched the job on the second ballot, also happened to have chaired the committee that hammered out the hard-right platform at the party’s 2014 convention that Woodfill said the party needs to more demonstratively promote and defend. (Woodfill, if he chooses, can take another crack at the chairmanship at the 2016 state convention, when Mechler will seek a full, tw0-year term.)
But, when Mechler accepted his victory, he didn’t talk about the platform, instead emphasizing the demographic imperative facing the party – to improve its standing with minority and particularly Hispanic voters, or perish as the dominating majority party in Texas.
This then is the horns of the Texas Republican Party’s dilemma, and on Monday, the horns were sharpened with an attempt by Senate Republicans to hold a hearing, with little notice, on a bill by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, targeting sanctuary cities, a move that Senate Democrats quickly scuttled, for the moment.
As Tim Eaton reported in today’s American-Statesman:
State Sen. José Rodríguez prevented a hearing from occurring Monday on a divisive immigration-related bill.
Rodríguez, D-El Paso, put a so-called tag on Senate Bill 185 by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, who seeks to outlaw “sanctuary cities” by prohibiting Texas governmental entities from passing laws to restrict police from asking about immigration status. Rodríguez said after the 8 a.m. meeting that he employed a procedural move to allow more time for discussion on the issue that raises passions on both sides. The bill was not properly posted on Friday, and the public was not given enough time as outlined in the Senate rules before the scheduled hearing, Rodríguez said.
“There was very little time for people to come and testify,” he said.
From Jim Henson, the head of the Texas Politics Project at UT, this morning:
I think immigration attitudes among Republicans have been very restrictive for quite a while and remain so. The deployment of the Guard to the border may have caused slight increases in the degree and intensity of these attitudes, but the baseline has been present for several years (per the piece I sent and the data in it).
I agree that Abbott, to some degree like Perry before him, emphasizes border security as an issue rather than issues that show more partisan division, like in-state tuition and “sanctuary cities.” The political logic of this is pretty clear. The issue of border security doesn’t just resonate with attitudes on immigration — it also invokes public safety and/or law and order. This is probably why you see Democrats much more evenly split on issues like the deployment of the National Guard last summer than on immediate deportation.
Calling for mandatory local enforcement of federal immigration law has been a politically alluring play for Republicans since Perry’s use of the issue in the 2010 campaign — but he didn’t stick with the issue as a major plank, at least not in that construction. But the pushback in the much more demanding environment of the legislature in 2011 — particularly from important business elements and local law enforcement — illustrated the political limitations of playing to the base with this particular issue. Perry subsequently abandoned it in 2013. The pushback we’ve seen in the last few days from the expected Democratic and humanitarian sources is likely to be only the leading edge of other opposition to the measure.
This doesn’t mean anti- “sanctuary city” legislation doesn’t have the potential to move, especially in a legislature with many lawmakers looking over their right shoulders at a very conservative primary electorate. The tenor of the debate over state-level policy on border security may also have shifted the terrain in ways that add resonance to the use of “sanctuary cities” as a gesture in the direction of securing the border.
^ Disclosure: There is no legal definition of a sanctuary city.
A few important things on the bill to note:
– This bill does not mandate a city or officer to do anything, it simply states there cannot be a blanket policy that prohibits the enforcement of state and federal immigration laws.
– This bill has nothing to do with the “Arizona law”, there is nothing in our bill that gives officers permission to pull people over and “check their papers” as Rodriguez stated this morning. The only way an officer can inquire about a person’s immigration status is if they have been arrested or lawfully detained for a criminal offense.
– The US Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that it is Constitutional for an officer to inquire about immigration status with individuals that have been arrested or lawfully detained.
– Additionally, the bill explicitly states that they ” may not consider race, color, language, or national origin while enforcing the laws”
– If a municipality was refusing to enforce DWI laws, no one would have objections to this bill. Why are there objections to asking cities to allow law enforcement to enforce the laws already on
Public Safety Stats from DPS: http://www.dps.texas.gov/administration/crime_records/pages/txCriminalAlienStatistics.htm
– According DHS status indicators, over 145,000 criminal aliens have been booked into local Texas jails between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014.
– Of the total criminal aliens arrested in that timeframe, over 96,000 or 53% were identified by DHS status as being in the US illegally at the time of their last arrest.
Below are the results on two sets of questions, one directly on whether or not the respondent approves or disapproves of city governments that choose not to enforce some immigration laws, with results also broken down by party and race, and a second, more subtly worded question, about whether local police should have to enforce federal immigration laws all the time, some of the time or never, with results broken down also by party, race and identification with the tea party.
Here is the question asked differently.
It remains to be seen whether, as this issue plays out this session, the past may be prologue,.
Here is Jim Henson’s take on the issue when it occupied center stage for a while in 2011.
The strange saga of anti-sanctuary cities legislation in the 82nd session amplified the sharp dissonance around immigration politics inside the Texas Republican Party. The essence of the problem is the conflict between conservative Republican voters with intense preferences for restrictions on immigrants and immigration, on one hand, and the much more pragmatic positions of key Republican leaders, elected officials, and business interests in the state on the other. Gov. Rick Perry, as the leader of the party, has maneuvered through this conflict with mixed results. Whatever his place in the party and his political future, the problem is built into the coalition of interests in the Texas GOP.
Legislation prohibiting cities from declining to enforce federal immigration law was incarnated as a campaign issue by candidate Perry in the 2010 gubernatorial race, then rose again as an emergency item declared by the governor as the session began. The legislation haunted both the legislative sessions, with a version passing in the House but not the Senate in the regular session, then another version passing in the Senate but not the House in the special session. The failures were greeted with relief by Democrats, who had fought the legislation tooth and nail, and with howls of displeasure from conservative Republicans and allied groups.