Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sort Of Immigrant-Friendly

The Repub Party "base" encompasses two elements, the mass core and the corporate core. And if Benjy Sarlin writing in Talking Points Memo is right, Rick Perry may have trouble with one. In 2001 (obviously before September 11), the Texas governor stated

We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, "we don't care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there." And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers. That's why Texas took the national lead in allowing such deserving young minds to attend a Texas college at a resident rate. Those young minds are a part of a new generation of leaders, the doors of higher education must be open to them. The message is simple: educacion es el futuro, y si se puede.

A decade later pro-immigration forces were fed up with Perry, largely because of his attempt to crack down on sanctuary cities. And, Sarlin reports, the Governor "toed a careful line during the 2006 immigration debates, supporting a guest worker program to legitimize illegal aliens, but never backing Bush's call for a path to citizenship, a provision conservatives derided as 'amnesty.'

A careful line- and one particularly clever, even though opposition to the path toward citizenship is somewhat inconsistent to his other stances. Although the path toward citizenship was supported by President Bush and Senator McCain, most of its support was among Democrats and opposition to any form of "comprehensive immigration reform" had become nearly a litmus test for congressional Republicans.

But pushing in-state tuition at public universities for children of illegal immigrants and a guest-worker program really are of a piece with one another. Keeping the offspring of illegal immigrants in the state of Texas encourages the entire family to remain in Texas by offering those (usually) young people a better rate than the children of U.S. citizens living, say, in Lawton, Oklahoma, a mere 48 miles from Wichita Falls, Texas. It gives an opportunity to that undocumented/illegal family to remain in the state of Texas, laboring for substandard wages, few if any benefits, understanding that fealty to its employer may be the only barrier between it and deportation. Compassionate, indeed.

There is no need to belabor the vile nature of temporary worker programs, nor to dwell on the favor shown them by business groups- and by European nations which have managed to promote a subclass of angry immigrant workers despised by much of the population.

Weep not for Rick Perry. If he gets flack from GOP voters for some immigrant-friendly policies, he can always shout "no to amnesty!" and "secure the borders first!" (Those statements are akin to the statement "God is good," with which almost everyone agrees while meaning something different to everyone.) Meanwhile, that corporate core of the GOP base, which- contrary to the party's mass base- pushed for raising the debt ceiling rather than risking default, knows it would be able to count on a President Perry.

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