Strong Push for Amnesty in First Day of Austin Civil Rights Summit

Strong Push for Amnesty in First Day of Austin Civil Rights Summit

The 50th Annual Civil Rights Summit is currently being held in Austin, Texas at the LBJ Presidential Library. On April 8, Former Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro discussed immigration reform and the “pathway to the American dream.” Both men appeared to support some form of amnesty–arguing that immigration reform in the U.S. is critical. 

Barbour, a Republican, said, “There’s a diversity of views in the republican party. But I have to say, my views about immigration policy are pure and simple: it is in the best interest of the country, economically and for other reasons, that we have immigration reform and that we take the 11 million people who are here [illegally] and give them the opportunity to be here legally….So that they [can] get out of the shadows.” 

The former governor mentioned that Speaker John Boehner “clearly” wants the House to pass an immigration reform package. 

“I think [the House is] going to try to do that this year,” Barbour said. “They don’t have the votes right now. They’re going to try to get the votes, and i think it’s in America’s best interest.”

Mayor Castro has been an outspoken advocate for the people he calls “DREAMers.” Castro said he views immigration as a modern civil rights issue. 

“When we classically think of the Civil Rights Movement, it was always about people who were seen as different and whether they would be treated equally or not… And so immigrants have had, throughout the generations, a similar experience,” Castro said.

“They are Americans,” Castro continued. “The U.S. is what they know. The question is–are they going to have the same opportunities and be treated equally? So in that sense, I see it in the same vein as the civil rights movement.”

“Put me down for endorsing what the mayor said,” Barbour responded. 

Immigration reform remains a controversial issue within the Republican Party. Some assert that Democrats continue to push amnesty purely for partisan motives. 

“Democrats…want more immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, because they need brand new voters, just warm bodies, more votes,” conservative columnist Ann Coulter said last month during a debate. “Amnesty goes through, and the Democrats have 30 million new voters. I just don’t think Republicans have an obligation to forgive law-breaking just because the Democrats need another 30 million voters.”

Indeed, indicators suggest that most immigrants support Democratic politicians. Last year Breitbart News reported on a Pew Research poll that found that Latino illegal immigrants, given the opportunity to vote, would vote Democratic at an eight-to-one ratio. 

The 50th Annual Civil Rights Summit, which is being held from April 8-10, will unquestionably highlight the conflicting views on immigration among republicans. Discussion panels are slated to cover immigration reform, education policy, civil rights, gender issues and addresses from U.S. Presidents.

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate