Thursday, April 23, 2015

The GOP Wrestles With Immigration Stance as It Courts Hispanics

Republicans here want to repeal the 14-year-old law that allows immigrants, legal or not, the benefit of in-state college tuition, and for Artemio Muniz, defending the law is both personal and political.
As the U.S.-born son of Mexican parents who lived as illegal immigrants, Mr. Muniz sees higher education as the American way to the middle class.
As a Republican activist eyeing an increasingly diverse electorate, Mr. Muniz sees preservation of the so-called Texas Dream Act as crucial to the GOP’s credibility among Latinos, whose growing numbers make them an important voting bloc nationally and in Texas, where they make up nearly a third of eligible voters.
“This is a mission to uphold what we believe is Republican heritage, a Republican legacy,” he told allies at a recent strategy meeting over shielding the law. “When it comes down to it, we’re going to draw a line in the sand.”
Artemio Muniz and his father, Artemio Sr., at the 
family's A&M Mattress Co. in Houston.
Mr. Muniz, 34 years old, is part salesman for the GOP and part agitator within it. He is an outspoken embodiment of the tensions surrounding immigration issues that bedevil the Republican Party, which is divided between demands for strict enforcement of immigration laws and the orderly assimilation of an estimated 11 million people now living in the U.S. without permission
Republican state lawmakers have supported the Texas Dream Act, which was signed by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2001. But the newly elected Texas lieutenant governor and some GOP lawmakers want it killed. “It’s a question of fairness to American citizens,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said of the repeal measure, which cleared a state Senate committee this month.
Nationally, Republicans had moved toward a more welcoming stance in the months after the 2012 presidential election—when Hispanic voters overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama . The shift was short-lived. The House GOP blocked a bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013, and has since declined to consider any pro-immigration legislation. Many lawmakers said such legislation was unwise until the U.S.-Mexico border was better secured.
Republican lawmakers are now trying to stop Mr. Obama’s executive actions that seek to protect several million illegal immigrants from deportation. Many Republicans agree the party needs to improve its standing with Hispanic voters but argue candidates need only engage the community, steer clear of divisive rhetoric and focus on such pressing concerns as jobs and the economy.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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