Texas Border Already Blue: Immigration Reform Gives Democrats National Platform

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Texas may not yet be blue but our border certainly is. In the state House, Texas Democrats represent the entirety of the Texas-Mexico border, while freshman Congressman Pete Gallego's 23rd district represents 800 of the 1,954 total miles along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Congressman appeared on MSNBC's Jansing & Co. to talk about the fate of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in this session of Congress.

I think immigration reform gets done this session of Congress. From the perspective of both parties it is time…I think the Republicans saw with what happened with the latino electorate last and time and in places like Texas thats a really significant thing. -Congressman Gallego

Obama won the 2012 election with over 70% of the Hispanic vote, and announcing Comprehensive Immigration Reform as a top 2nd term priority during the State of the Union has left Republicans both nationally and in Texas struggling to find a viable position on the issue.

Most people don't really care where the idea comes from, I think they want action, they want something to happen, they're tired of the prolonged conversations. -Congresman Gallego

Thats true even in Texas, according to a poll…According to a poll released by the Texas Tribune in 2012 the top two issues for Texans were “Immigration” and “Border Security”, yet top state Republicans have shied away from addressing them so far this session. Maybe for now congressional Republicans should follow their lead because according the poll Texans understand the difference between the two. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told the Texas Tribune that Republicans' problem was that they have, “reduce[d]the entire issue to bumper sticker phrases such as 'No Amnesty' or 'Build a Fence'.” If he is onto something he may want to Cc his Congressional party mates who continue to attack the President for focusing his immigration policy on a path to citizenship instead of shutting down the border. Congressman Gallego referred to El Paso as being one of the safest cities in America and said though some positive local economic activity comes to border towns when we increase our presence there, many residents were “a little tired of tying immigration to border security”.

Just last week State Representatives Rafael Anchia and Ana Hernandez Luna filed a House Concurrent Resolution urging Congress to immediately pass comprehensive immigration reform.  They cited a new poll that shows strong bipartisan support, at 71%, for immigration reform that included a path to citizenship. “I applaud the President's leadership on this issue and agree that it is time for Congress to pass major immigration legislation,” said Rep. Anchia. The resolution incorporates statements from some traditionally conservative sources; Texas Federation of Republican Women, as well as findings by the Texas Comptroller and the Libertarian Cato Institute.

Rep. Hernandez Luna struck an inclusive tone, but Republicans have yet to embrace the invitation. “I am proud to offer this resolution with Rep. Anchia in support of practical, realistic and bi-partisan immigration reform.  I look forward to garnering widespread support from our colleagues in the Texas House so that we may send a clear message to Washington on this issue. ”

Its clear at some individual levels Democrats have begun to create a narrative on an issue where they have both the public's support and a weak opposition. With a little good fortune the increased profile of Democrats can emigrate to other issues like education, healthcare and energy policy.

You can see Congressman Gallego on MSNBC here

About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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