During a panel on immigration at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual policy orientation in Austin, Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) was asked by the moderator, John Fund of National Review, what can be done about the ideological divide over immigration policy between traditional Republicans and the tea party.
Estes’ response: “We have to realize we’re not a bunch of white people, we’re not a party of skin color, we’re a party of ideas.”
During the last few years, some mainline and business-oriented Republicans have cautiously favored comprehensive immigration reform, fearing a demographic future where whites are a voting minority, while tea partiers have pushed for a nativist approach: simply deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
What “ideas” did Estes have in mind? He went on to articulate a fairly standard tea party line on immigration and border security.
Estes warned of dangerous drug cartels, sex slaves and mules coming across the border.
“These people are vicious,” Estes said. “They have no place in our country, and the Texas Legislature will do everything we can to stop it.”
Estes said he would work to close the social safety net for undocumented immigrants and repeal the Texas DREAM Act, which allows undocumented students who graduate from Texas high schools and who have been here at least three years to pay in-state tuition at community colleges and public universities.
JoAnn Fleming, chair of the Texas Legislature’s TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee, spoke after Estes.
“The rule of law has been abandoned in the United States,” Fleming said. “If we continue we’ll end up with problems like we see in Europe.”
Estes nodded as Fleming spoke. “You can tell I get worked up about this,” he said.