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Texas holding out on Dream Act as Hispanic Republicans debate its political impact

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As the Dream Act remains alive with the aid of a strategic move in the Senate last week, Hispanics who support the Republican Party have different takes on what a Republican rejection of the legislation would do to the future of the party with the Hispanic minority.

As noted in a previous post, the Hispanic Republican group Somos Republicanos has come out against the hardline immigration rhetoric of Republicans like Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who wants to lead the charge to reform the birthright provision found in the fourteenth amendment.   Now, the same Republican group is joining those on the liberal side of the aisle (such as America's Voice and Immigration Reform for America) in calling for Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson to support the pending bill, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Without the Senator's support, which she threw behind the bill back in 2007, the Dream Act falls short of the needed votes for a filibuster-proof passage.  Right now, the bill would not find any support on the Senate side from the state of Texas. Hutchinson's fellow senator, John Cornyn, has also said that he will not support the Dream Act when it comes up for a vote as expected within the next month of the 111th Congress.

Whether the votes that the two Senators cast on the bill will have a detrimental impact on their political futures seems uncertain at this point.  When up for reelection, both Senators will face a Hispanic population of close to 37 percent, based on the latest figures calculated by the U.S. Census. This isn't even taking into account the Hispanic population's impressive growth in the state. 

Noting similar figures as the census, Somos Republicanos has sent a letter to Senator Hutchinson in hopes of an 11th hour change of heart, once again reiterating that her rejection of the measure will cost her.

     "Please be reminded that in Texas, Hispanics will soon be 40% of the population and they vote according to the issues that affect our community. In Texas, 53% of Hispanics call themselves conservative, but they are also cautious with Republicans that use immigration as a hot button issue," the letter said.

The letter made note of Governor Rick Perry winning 38% percent of Texas's Hispanic vote because he has listened to moderate voices on immigration.  As an example of how the political demographic could possibly change in Texas with the growing Hispanic population, one would only need to look at California where approximately 60 percent of the Hispanic population are registered Democrats.

Not all Hispanics on the Republican side, however, would agree that a vote against the Dream Act would cost the Hispanic vote, saying that there is still a chance for Republicans to make gains with the community.  Jason Villalba, head of the Dallas chapter of the Republican National Assembly, says that Hutchinson's stance on the bill won't affect her political viability.

     "While the DREAM Act is a good concept, I don't think the current draft is ready to be approved by the American people," he said in the Dallas Morning Star article cited earlier.

While Hispanic Republicans spar over what impact immigration rhetoric from Republican politicians will have, one thing is for sure. Hispanics are rapidly becoming an integral part of the nation's voting demographic, probably at a faster rate than most perceive.

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