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‘We Have No Choice’: Texas Latino Leaders Say They’ll Compromise On Immigration Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 25th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

‘We Have No Choice’: Texas Latino Leaders Say They’ll Compromise On Immigration Reform

“The Republican party does not have a platform for Latinos, that is true,” he said. “But we’re voting for the man.”

The post ‘We Have No Choice’: Texas Latino Leaders Say They’ll Compromise On Immigration Reform appeared first on ThinkProgress.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, left, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate David Alameel greet each other at the start of their debate at Mountain View College campus, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in Dallas.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, left, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate David Alameel greet each other at the start of their debate at Mountain View College campus, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in Dallas.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

DALLAS, TEXAS — For the last twelve years he’s been in office, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has resisted efforts to bring citizenship to the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. He’s voted to militarize the southern border, has opposed the federal DREAM Act, and once sponsored a bill to more quickly deport Central American children.

So when it comes to the upcoming election for his Senate seat, it might not seem like Cornyn is the ideal choice for progressive Texans who want comprehensive immigration reform. But after a debate Friday night between Cornyn and his Democratic opponent Dr. David Alameel, some Latino leaders told ThinkProgress that they would be voting for Cornyn anyway.

“I have never voted for [Cornyn], but this time I’m going to, because we have no choice,” said Rene Martinez, a district director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and staunch supporter of progressive immigration reform. “Alameel doesn’t have a chance, so I’d rather be standing right behind [Cornyn], and have him turn to people like us for advice.”

Cornyn is widely expected to win his race. His war chest is exponentially bigger than Alameel’s, raising more than $14 million for his own campaign while Alameel, a doctor, has largely supported his campaign with his own wealth.

And Alameel’s positions on immigration aren’t totally in line with progressive immigration reform advocates. At the debate, Alameel said undocumented immigrants who commit crimes “should be deported immediately.” He also recommended deploying the National Guard at the border to prevent people from crossing it.

This didn’t sit well with Beatrice Martinez, a board member at the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce who also said she’s supporting Cornyn.

“We don’t need any more policing [at the border],” she said. “We need economic development there. And [Cornyn] supports that.”

Beatrice and Rene said there are reasons to hope that Cornyn will be willing to compromise. One of the Senator’s VIP guests to the debate was the ex-president of LULAC, Hector Flores. Cornyn said at the debate that he now supports the DREAM Act, which gives permanent residency to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and acquired a college degree. He said he would support increasing the number of Visas given to people who want to live in the U.S., “particularly for people who have skills we need.” When asked if he would support measures to help undocumented immigrants get affordable college tuition, Cornyn shook his head “yes.”

These positions are important because Cornyn, the senior U.S. Senator for the state at the focal point of the immigration debate, will likely be at the center of the Senate effort to craft reform legislation if re-elected. If that happens, Rene wants to be on Cornyn’s good side.

“Sen. Cornyn’s position on immigration reform is OK,” Rene said. “When he’s re-elected, I think he’s going to need a lot of advice. We are at the forefront of immigration reform in Texas, we’ve got close ties to the Senator, and we’re going to be advising him.”

Still, voters like Jessica Ruvalcaba don’t trust the Cornyn’s seemingly evolved position on immigration, or his promise to fix the system.

“We’ve been with Cornyn for so long and we haven’t seen any progress [on immigration],” Ruvalcaba, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington, said. “So that’s the only thing that’s stopping me from trying to vote to re-elect him — the fact that he hasn’t done anything since he’s been Senator.

Some of that distrust on the issue comes from the mere fact that Cornyn is a Republican. Robert Chavez Sr., founder of the Hispanic rights group Tejanos Unite, said he doesn’t believe Republicans are interested in tackling the problem because the party itself is out of touch with the state’s large Hispanic population. “I’m here for the party that’s going to do the right thing for our race,” Chavez said.

Rene Martinez agreed, but said party is not factoring into his decision to vote for Cornyn.

“The Republican party does not have a platform for Latinos, that is true,” he said. “But we’re voting for the man — the individual. We have always been fairly close to Cornyn, and we’re going to put enough pressure on him that he’s gotta show some leadership.”

The post ‘We Have No Choice’: Texas Latino Leaders Say They’ll Compromise On Immigration Reform appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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