On Saturday, a coalition of grassroots conservatives led by TEA party coordinators beat back the so-called “Texas Solution” at the Texas GOP convention held in Fort Worth. The margin of victory was a spread of slightly more than 1,000 votes from a delegation of more than 8,500.
It didn’t take long for some on the right to join the liberal left in hurling the entirely predictable insults – calling us racists, chronic naysayers, and destroyers of the Republican Party.
When the hysterical, emotion-driven name-calling starts (when does it stop?), I am always reminded of the late great Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s assessment of such attacks: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
Much can be said about the differences between those who supported and defended the Texas Solution and those who ardently opposed and denounced it, but this column will attempt to put a fine point on what drives those of us who rallied the delegates to defeat any plan that granted even a first step toward legal status.
The pro-Texas Solution group is made up of two groups – well-intentioned advocates who believe a compassionate approach to a “pathway to citizenship” must come now or the Republican Party is finished and the political bosses representing big business interests who desire an endless flow of cheap labor – national sovereignty and security be damned.
Those who oppose the Texas Solution believe that unless we secure the borders first, support law enforcement’s fight against the growing dangers of narco-terrorism, human trafficking and the sex trade, work to save the victims of human slavery, defend American sovereignty, and enforce the laws already on the books, our country is finished.
These are two very different worldviews that come down to this – we don’t trust our government to secure the borders first. Irrefutable evidence abounds to give us reason to distrust most everything coming out of Washington, DC, from the “you can keep your doctor” broken promises, to the IRS bullying of conservatives, to the perennial campaign promises to clean up waste, fraud and abuse in the food stamp/Medicaid/Medicare programs, to the shameful cases of Benghazi and the Bergdahl disaster, but for the sake of this discussion, we’ll focus on why we cannot trust Washington (and some Texas officials) when it comes to keeping their word on securing the border.
History is clear. We’ve been here before with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan. Like the “Gang of Eight” bill (S.744), the 1986 Act included various triggers and requirements before advancing legal status and it promised border security and enforcement – which never happened. Twenty-eight years later, we’re still waiting.
Former US Attorney General Edwin Meese III, writing in a June 13, 2013, op-ed for The Heritage Foundation, describes the 1986 debacle best, “On the day Reagan signed ‘comprehensive’ reform into law, only one thing changed: Millions of unlawful immigrants gained ‘legal’ status. The promised crackdowns on security and enforcement never happened. Only amnesty prevailed.”
Meese adds, “Since the ’86 amnesty, the number of illegal immigrants has quadrupled. That should teach Congress a very important lesson: Amnesty ‘bends’ the rule of law. And bending the rule of law to reach a ‘comprehensive’ deal winds up provoking wholesale breaking of the law. Ultimately, it encourages millions more to risk entering the country illegally in the hope that one day they, too, might receive amnesty.”
The Security Threat is Real
Since the broken promises of 1986 to secure the border and enforce the rule of law, what’s happened in the United States? Today’s headlines show we are more vulnerable than ever. Here in Texas, drug and human trafficking cartels now reach all across Texas. Fort Worth – home of the just-ended 2014 Texas GOP convention – is part of the DFW metro area now deemed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as a “command and control center” for Mexican cartels. With Republicans in charge of state government for so long, how did we get here?
The Texas Public Safety Threat Overview released by the Texas DPS in late March 2013 says six of the eight major cartels operate in Texas: Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization, La Familia Michoacana and the Juarez Cartel. In terms of geographical turf, the Zetas, La Familia and Gulf cartels overlap in their operational areas, roughly the eastern half of Texas; the Beltran Leyva Organization is based along the Texas Gulf Coast; and the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels operate primarily in West Texas.
The April 2014 Gang Assessment from DPS states: “The Tier 1 gangs in Texas are Tango Blast and Tango cliques (estimated >8,200 members), Texas Syndicate (>4,400 members), Texas Mexican Mafia (>5,500 members), and Barrio Azteca (>2,000 members). These organizations pose the greatest gang threat to Texas due to their relationships with Mexican cartels, large membership numbers, high levels of transnational criminal activity, and organizational effectiveness.”
Over the past 15 years, Hezbollah has set up operational training centers all over Mexico and are working with the cartels to infiltrate the United States.
Contrast these frightening facts with an emotional reaction by a well-intentioned blogger critical of our efforts to fight the Texas Solution: “Let’s face reality, Texas will be predominately Hispanic by 2020 and the immigrants coming from Mexico are Christian with the same values the Republican Party symbolizes.” She obviously sees the world much differently than do we. While not every person coming across the border illegally is a cartel member or a potential terrorist, we have no idea how many are. It only takes one illegal bad seed at a time to murder a citizen or a law enforcement officer, rape a child, or traffic women and children – selling them for sex slaves. When law enforcement and Texas Border Volunteers are warning that things are rapidly getting worse, we think it’s time to pay attention.
The Fiscal Cost: A Bursting Social Safety Net and Fraud
According to Heritage Foundation studies, “in 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household. This cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.
If amnesty is enacted, the average adult unlawful immigrant would receive $592,000 more in government benefits over the course of his remaining lifetime than he would pay in taxes. Over a lifetime, the former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes. They would generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion.“
Although an Illegal Immigration Task Force Report published by the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute in October 2006 constructed a legislative blue print for ending social welfare magnets, political correctness and sheer cowardice have prevented the Republican-controlled legislature and state officials from passing legislation to close loopholes that allow illegals to access the taxpayer-funded social safety net.
Fraud in the Lone Star Card food program is rampant. An infuriating News 4 San Antonio report revealed how illegals get Lone Star Cards through their children. According to the investigative report, a Mexican doctor recently stopped at one of the border bridges was asked why she had both a Lone Star and Medicaid card if she lived in Mexico. “Well that belongs to my children, my children were born in the US, and they’re entitled to benefits,” the investigator said, explaining the doctor’s answer.
Aside from loopholes and relaxed standards for checking eligibility to access the social safety net, there are benefits allowed by the federal government. A 2013 Kaiser Health News Report cites access to “emergency Medicaid benefits” by illegal aliens. In 2011, Texas reported 240,000 claims costing $331 million.
The Bottom Line
Illegal immigration is not about race. It’s about national security. Our national security is threatened by open borders and an open social safety net we can ill afford. If you still are not convinced, watch this special investigative report.
We went to the Texas Republican Party Convention to kill efforts to re-adopt The Texas Solution, which would have provided a fig leaf cover for John Boehner and Eric Cantor to cite a Texas Republican-approved plan as a reason push forward on a comprehensive immigration reform effort that would have promised security and delivered none. We succeeded.
Make no mistake – Texas TEA party conservatives are dedicated to saving Texas and saving our country from becoming the mess that is Europe. No manner of name-calling, nasty headlines, or bullying will deter us. We have counted the cost of standing firm. We are ready to do whatever it takes.
JoAnn Fleming is the Executive Director of Grassroots America – We the People, and a two-term Chairman, Advisory Committee to the TEA Party Caucus of the TX Legislature.