Immigration reform presents Texas Democrats with a rare but golden opportunity to create a narrative. From Governor Perry's State Of The State to the bills filed so far this session, Texas Republicans have been interestingly mum on the issue of immigration compared to recent sessions. They have either had a change of heart on issues like “Voter ID”, and “Sanctuary Cities” (which Perry classified as “emergency legislation” in 2011, but it did not reach his desk) or demographic realities have forced a different strategy. I assume the latter, but if not talking about immigration is the new strategy, that should be low hanging fruit for Democrats at the state and federal level.
The costs of our antiquated system gives Texas Democrats the ability to approach reform from an economic perspective. Not only has the State Comptroller's report indicated that undocumented workers were an actual net value to taxpayers, but the federal expenditures for immigration enforcement were significantly more than that of all other federal law enforcement agencies combined.
President Obama has already stated that Immigration Reform will be a top priority of his 2nd term agenda. It's also clear by their courting of Texans behind the scenes and at the national convention that Texas is part of that equation. Look for a strong statement on Immigration in the State of the Union tomorrow. With headlines like “On immigration, Texas surprisingly quiet” in Politico and “A Texas-sized silence as immigration talks ramp up” in the Dallas Morning News, it sure seems like a great time to say something.