Blake Farenthold
Blake Farenthold (Patrick Michels)

Change They Don’t Believe In


Cindy Casares Portrait

A version of this story ran in the September 2013 issue.

So much for Texas Republicans wooing the Hispanic vote. Remember when President Obama wiped the floor with Mitt Romney in the last presidential election and Republicans swore that they absolutely had to address comprehensive immigration reform or their party would go the way of the dodo? Well, I hope they weren’t counting on Texas Republicans to fall in line, because xenophobia and biblical voodoo have come back in the Lone Star State, if they ever left. Republicans in Texas will use any excuse to oppose a comprehensive immigration package.

Exhibit A: Former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas Cathie Adams was recently interviewed on the Christian radio show TruNews (“The only newscast reporting the countdown to the second coming of Jesus Christ”). Host and “End Times News Man” Rick Wiles warned that a biometric ID system could be added to a national immigration reform bill. Adams responded to Wiles by declaring the technology “demonic” and reminiscent of the “Mark of the Beast.”

“And, of course, we know in biblical prophecy that that is the End Times,” Adams explained. “That is going to be the brand either on our foreheads or on the back of our hands. That is demonic through and through. That is End Times prophecy. There is no question about that.”

Okay Cathie, I get it. You hate “illegals.” You don’t have to bring Beelzebub into it. At least Republican Congressman Kenny Marchant of Coppell is man enough to tell it like it is. He told an Associated Press reporter recently that he has no personal interest in helping to pass immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship because a bunch of new Hispanic voters would likely leave him out of a job.

“If you give the legal right to vote to 10 Hispanics in my district,” Marchant said, “seven to eight of them are going to vote Democrat.” Of course he’s not going to bow to the will of the changing demographics in his district, otherwise known as democracy. According to the congressman, immigration reform “is very unpopular in my district. The Republican primary voters, they’re being pretty vocal with me on this subject.”

Meanwhile, the number of Republicans nationwide who are coming over to the immigration reform side is worrying enough that Iowa Congressman Steve King thinks “a spell has been cast over a good number of” his GOP colleagues. Texas Republicans, on the other hand, are still hoping they can elbow immigrants out of the country.

Take, for example, Congressman Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi. He’s come up with the Texas Republican version of compassionate immigration legislation. That’s when they don’t deport DREAMers. They deport only the DREAMers’ parents. Last year, Farenthold was into blaming undocumented teens for moving here with their families. This year he’s trying to “find a compassionate solution for their status that doesn’t reward illegal behavior of their parents.” Because when I think compassion, I think about forcibly separating kids from their parents.

Still, a new survey by GOP pollster Whit Ayres shows that more than two-thirds of Republicans nationwide support immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. (Well, more of an obstacle course to citizenship, but still.) Yet U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz continues to argue that the Senate bill is not strict enough on border security. That is pretty hard to swallow coming from a Cuban, the one group of Hispanics that gets to benefit from the American immigration double standard. Both he and Sen. John Cornyn believe that citizenship should not be guaranteed, and they want 100 percent security—what they call “situational awareness”—at every segment of the southern border. I doubt they have that much situational awareness of their own kids.

Meanwhile, both Arizona senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, have jumped on board as supporters of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. You know it’s bad when Arizona Republicans are more compassionate than Texans. Perhaps their state went so far to the right that they were finally embarrassed enough to make a change. Sadly, it seems Texas Republicans have not yet hit bottom.