Texas Republicans Split On Immigrant Guest Worker Program In Party Platform

Apr 2, 2014

There is a stir among Texas Republicans on whether or not the party will keep a guest worker program as part of its campaign platform when the party meets in June.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has long been a proponent of what has been labeled a "Texas solution," which would allow undocumented workers without a criminal record to remain in Texas for a job.

“The Texas solution would require a biometric ID, it would require that these folks work for a true employer, no cash payments, no 1099s, no more underground economy," Patterson said. "In doing so it would eliminate that difference in pay for the illegal population; it would bring those wages up.”

Political experts agree that having it as a campaign plank would attract Hispanics back to the party, but not everyone is on board. Cathie Adams, the president of Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative pro-family group, is leading the charge against the guest worker program.

Adams said the party debated the issue in 2012 but ran out of time before it could be decided.

"We have got to secure the border so that we can know we as Americans can continue to be the melting pot that we’ve always been,” Adams said.

Adams pointed to recent numbers released by the Center for Immigration Studies as proof that the border is still a major problem. The CIS numbers show U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released about 68,000 foreign nationals with past criminal convictions last year instead of deporting them.

Adams said securing the border is something Hispanic Republicans want and that it is unfair to say they have had to pander and change the rules to accommodate a group of people. In last few months, many Hispanic Republicans have spoken out by asking GOP candidates to tone down their campaign rhetoric while discussing the topic of immigration.