More Wishful Pro-Democratic Reporting From James McKinley: Hispanics the 'Sleeping Giant of Texas Politics'
Texas-based reporter James McKinley Jr. offered on Tuesday a sentimental and biased take on the "Dream Act" that abounds with wishful thinking that the defeat of the amnesty for young illegal immigrants will spell trouble for the Texas Republicans who opposed it, having awoken a group that is "regarded as the sleeping giant of Texas politics" ("Regarded" as such by Times reporters, anyway): "After Dream Act Setback, Eyeing a Sleeping Giant."
McKinley was last featured in Times Watch before the 2010 elections, cheering on the constantly improving prospects of Bill White, the Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, who nonetheless got creamed by 13 points in November at the hands of incumbent Republican Rick Perry.
On Monday McKinley pondered the cold-hearted and politically vulnerable Republicans who refused to allow the Dream Act to come to a vote on the Senate floor on Saturday. (The "cloture" vote failed by a 55-41 margin, with three Republicans voting in favor, five Democrats voting against. Another Democrat did not vote. Sixty votes are required to bring a measure to the floor.)
About 37 percent of Texas residents are of Hispanic origin, and the state has a long history of welcoming newcomers who work hard and obey the law. So the state would seem likely to support a bill to grant citizenship to thousands of foreign-born college students.
Yet the two Republican Senators from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, both voted to block the bill, known as the Dream Act, from coming up for a vote on Saturday.
Neither senator was moved by protests and hunger strikes in San Antonio, nor by calls from religious leaders to pass the bill, nor by newspaper articles about the children of undocumented immigrants who had made it to college, only to be picked up for traffic violations and threatened with deportation.
The question now is whether the failure of the Dream Act will create a backlash among Hispanic voters against the Republicans in power.
In blaming the GOP, the Times and others are avoiding the inconvenient truth that if the Democratic Party had voted as a bloc, the measure could have passed - but five Democrats did not vote for it.
McKinley suggested Sen. Hutchison was motivated by political posturing.
Cornyn said that the bill had several flaws and that the Democrats had refused to allow hearings or amendments. For instance, he said, the bill as written would have allowed illegal immigrants with criminal records to obtain citizenship. Ms. Hutchison also said the bill contained flaws that would benefit people "beyond the intended individuals who were brought here as children and grew up and were educated in the United States."
But Ms. Hutchison had supported similar legislation in the past. To win a primary election in 2012, she will have to appeal to conservative voters after Gov. Rick Perry questioned her conservative credentials.
The risk for Republicans like Ms. Hutchison is that in trying to appeal to the conservative base, they will anger Hispanics, who are regarded as the sleeping giant of Texas politics.
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