Thursday, June 14, 2012

Un, Dos, Tres... Un Pasito Pa' Adelante TX GOP

(translation: one, two, three... one step forward TX GOP). That's my take on the Texas GOP platform when it comes to the issue of immigration.

The Texas Republican party has taken a step forward by including a proposal for a guest worker program in its party platform.

The details are sketchy at this point. And some elements of the proposal do not make much sense. For example, the platform says that temporary workers must "complete an American civic class". Why is it necessary for someone who comes here - let's say - to work in construction to know about the three branches of government? And how many US born workers would be able to pass such a test?

Other elements of the plank can be easily used to hold any immigration reform hostage. For example, securing the border. For opponents of immigration reform the border will never be secure enough. For years now, the "OMG-the-border-is-a-sieve" crowd has been predicting a wave of drug related crime spilling over the Mexico-USA border and covering American streets in blood. Yet, FBI annual statistics show that border cities consistently rate as low in crime. In 2011, McAllen, Texas violent crime fell 18% and the city experienced a 21 year low in overall crime.

Also, the requirement to allow temporary workers "when no U.S. workers are currently available" is not realistic. Nevertheless, introducing a guest worker program into the immigration conversation does highlight that illegal immigration is driven by economic trends as opposed to some nefarious Reconquista Plan.

The overall language and tone also improved. The platform refers to "undocumented workers" instead of "illegal immigrants". Personally, I do not understand why some many people get hung up over semantics. I mean...  if you are being deported, are you going to feel any better if they call you "undocumented" vs. "illegal"? But I recognize that some people would be willing to swallow poison provided it is sugar coated.

Unfortunately, other elements in the platform will continue overshadow the positive step of the guest worker program. One is a call to end in state college tuition for undocumented students.  Two is a call to prohibit "enrollment in free public schools of non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States."

House Bill 1403 providing in state tuition for undocumented students was virtually unopposed in 2001. For eleven years it was a not an issue. Everything changed when Perry entered the presidential race and Romney decided to ride to the GOP nomination on the backs of students brought here illegally as children. Ain't politics grand (sarc)!

As far as denying access to "free" public schools, Texas Republicans sound just like progressives when they talk about "free" healthcare. There is no such thing as "free" anything. Public schools are funded by taxes that all who reside in Texas pay. That includes undocumented immigrants. Funny, no plank calling for the ending taxes on undocumented immigrants.

Besides, the Supreme Court already ruled  in Plyler vs. Doe that denying access to public school to children who had not been legally admitted to the United States is unconstitutional.  But then again, this is the same platform that is trying to strip constitutionally guaranteed birthright citizenship. Perhaps, it is the writers of the Texas GOP party platform who desperately need to take a course in American civics.