Interview with Rep. Dee Margo of the Hispanic Republican Conference (VIDEO)

The following interview with Texas House Representative Dee Margo is one of a series of interviews conducted by VOCES Action and TexasGOPVote with members of the Hispanic Republican Conference in the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature. Rep. Margo is a member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 78 representing part of El Paso.

Rep. Margo is a freshman in the House of Representatives. As a small business owner, Rep. Margo helps people protect the things that matter most – their businesses, their homes, their families, and their health. I asked Rep. Margo about his views on Hispanics and the Republican Party, Resolution HCR 88, his district and security in El Paso. We also discussed the need of a rational immigration process, the need to change straight ticket voting in El Paso, and his support for Voter ID. Rep. Margo explained why El Paso has been called the safest city in the U.S. while its neighbor Juarez, Mexico is the most dangerous city in North America. Finally Rep. Margo explains his Hispanic background and talks about his grandfather who came from Mexico.

The membership of the Hispanic Republican Conference has been growing. Originally it was formed by the House’s five Hispanic Republicans but has since been joined by other State Representatives whose districts have at least 30% Hispanic constituents. The Hispanic Republican Conference will be addressing some issues that have been controversial in parts of the state with large Hispanic populations.

Hispanics make up 36% of the Texas population and this percentage is growing. Hispanics share Republican conservative values of fiscal responsibility, faith, hard work, family values, and are pro-life. VOCES Action has been educating and empowering Americans with Hispanic backgrounds, and who hold conservative values, to make more responsible and informed voting decisions.

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW: 

Adryana Boyne: Hello, we're here with Representative Dee Margo. Thank you so much for accepting during session to do this interview with us, Mr. Margo.

Dee Margo: Thank you Adryana, I'm happy to be here.

Adryana Boyne: Well as a Hispanic, and through my work with VOCES Action in meeting with thousands of Hispanics, I know that Hispanics have conservative values. Can you share with me the ways that you have observed this among Americans of Hispanic background.

Dee Margo: Well I think, especially in El Paso, of course, my grandfather came from the Rio Grande Valley, the Hispanics that I've seen in El Paso, and we're overwhelmingly Hispanic, are very conservative, and their focus, I like to talk about the 3 F's, faith, family, and freedom. They're in favor of American values, in spite of how they may be portrayed by certain political parties or leaders within those parties or spokespersons, I think their value structure is every bit as conservative as mine is.


Adryana Boyne: I know that you are an author of House Concurrent Resolution 88, HCR 88, can you briefly explain this resolution and what you would like to accomplish with it?

Dee Margo: Well HCR 88 by Representative Garza simply states that, it encourages the federal government to finally enact a broad comprehensive immigration program. We haven't done anything probably since '86 with the Reagan plan and there was a lot of amnesty there, and that's now become a bad word, but we've got to do something. We've got to control our borders and we've got to do a rational immigration process for those that are here and those that want to come in. We are a nation of immigrants, it just makes sense to do so.

Adryana Boyne: One of the things that I usually speak about when they ask me to talk about immigration is the fact that to find a sensible immigration solution, we have to be realistic, we cannot think too much about deploying everybody because that's not realistic, but we cannot think about a full-blanket amnesty either so we need to find something realistic.

Dee Margo: No, there needs to be a rational process, but it seems to be it's kind of bifurcated in that I don't think you're going to have people, especially on the East Coast and in Washington, listening to a rational immigration process until we can say that our borders are safe and we control them. I don't know if we will get to that point, but surely, we're not there now by a long shot.

Adryana Boyne: Now how in the world did a Republican win in El Paso? Is this is a shift in the voting trends, or how can the Republican Party maintain a stronghold in El Paso?

Dee Margo: Well District 78, I believe, is a Republican district, not by a significant majority if you go by voting patterns of the last several elections, but I think it's more Republican than it is Democrat. El Paso's been kind of an isolated community and I think the biggest thing we need to change is the straight ticket voting. If we can get to the point of people voting without, I can't tell you the number of people who came up to me and said they thought they voted for me when they voted straight ticket on the Democratic Party lever, just didn't discern, weren't aware, and you know, it's not helpful, and I think people think a vote is a sacred right, that's the reason I was a big strong backer of Voter ID that we've passed here in the House already earlier this year. It's a sacred right and it ought, and you ought to use your basic intellect and intelligence to make a choice, that's what we're called to do when we vote and to blindly think that one particular party, Republican or Democrat, has all the best candidates is wrong, I don't think that's the case, so you've got to apply your gray matter and a little discernment and figure out who's the best, but historically, El Paso has been very heavily voting on the straight ticket side, and so you have to counter that. In my district, historically, we've typically had the same number of Republicans and the same number of Democrats voting on the straight tickets, so it's the independent voters that I have appeal to, and I think that the El Paso District 78 is definitely Republican. I think there are more conservative values in El Paso than the people give us credit for, and I think hopefully, I'm adding a little change to the thought process with my being down here in Austin.

Adryana Boyne: Well that is interesting because not long ago, I was invited to speak in El Paso, I went with Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and when I gave my speech, and I explained why Hispanics have to vote Republican, the best joy that I had, there were several Democrats, and among those, three of them came and told me that after they heard me speak, they were switching parties, and they were voting Republican. That made my day that day. I'm glad for you too.

El Paso was recently named the safest city in America, yet its neighbor, across the border, Juarez, Mexico, is considered the most dangerous city in North America. How can we explain this, Mr. Margo?

Dee Margo: A friend of mine refers to it as competing realities, and within Juarez, there are competing realities. You have the human tragedies and violence, but then on the other side, in the manufacturing area in the Maquilas, the manufacturing is actually growing, and we measure that by the truck traffic coming north, which we send raw materials to Mexico, they're assembled, and they come north, and the truck traffic was up double digits in 2010, I think close to 20%, so within Juarez alone, you have competing realities. You have the increase in commerce and growth and the manufacturing, and the Maquila permits are up, but yet you have all the violence and the murders that are happening in other parts of Juarez. Well it's like that in El Paso, the violence has not spilled over, in spite of what the media has been saying in a national basis, which I think is misrepresenting what's going on there. We can't deny the human tragedy that's going on, however, what's happening in El Paso is totally unrelated, and we're doing fine, and our statistics show that, plus when they talk about the drug trade and the human traffic and everything, it usually bypasses El Paso and goes into the interior of the United States and north of Texas, so it's not like we're a hub for that. I think we're different than the Tijuana San Diego area, but we've got to stop it, and the people of Mexico have go to take back their city. I pray daily for our sister city in Juarez. Some people say well we shouldn't refer to it as a sister city, I do. We're intertwined in commerce and families for over 400 years. It is a sister city, and so what goes on there does impact El Paso. In the strict sense of our border and the violence, no it is not impacting us, but we also need to be mindful of that, and I pray daily for the integrity of the government of Mexico, the police, and their military. People don't want to come to El Paso and leave Juarez, but they're having to, those that can afford to and need to are doing so, so there is some migration north.

Adryana Boyne: Mr. Margo, not many people know here in Texas, and you did mention briefly a little bit earlier, regarding the fact that you have Hispanic blood in you. Can you explain where that Hispanic blood is coming from?

Dee Margo: Well first of all, my great grandmother came from Mexico, and my grandfather was born and reared in Rio Grande City, one of eleven children, and he didn't speak English until he was 18, Elias Margo, and he went to University of Texas, where he learned to speak English, and then he went to Galveston Med School, and was a general practitioner back in the early part of the 1900s. Then he moved to Oklahoma City, I don't know why he moved to Oklahoma City, but he ended up going to Oklahoma City and got a specialty in orthopedics and was an orthopedic surgeon there. In fact, he founded a hospital that's there today in Oklahoma City. My uncle was an orthopedic surgeon. My dad was born in Oklahoma City, and I was too, but the family roots on the Margo side are in Rio Grande City. Like I said, my grandfather was one of eleven, and it's interesting, I've got relationships here in the House. Ryan Guillen who is a state representative from Rio Grande City, his great-grandmother was a Margo and State Rep. Rafael Anchia is married to a second cousin of mine.

Adryana Boyne: Well Mr. Margo, I want to tell you it was a joy to meet you today, and I want to thank you for not only serving the people of your district, but the people of Texas. Thank you very much.

Dee Margo: Thank you, I appreciate it.

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