Opinion: I'm a Hispanic Republican because Reagan believed in immigrants
President Ronald Reagan once said immigrants “came to make America work. They didn’t ask what this country could do for them but what they could do to make this refuge the greatest home of freedom in history.”
It was in that spirit that my parents left Mexico as teenagers and immigrated illegally to the United States in the late 1970s. My father didn’t look for handouts. He worked two jobs, six days a week, to make ends meet. He instilled that same work ethic in our entire family, and together we built one of Texas’ largest privately owned home furnishings manufacturing companies — all begun with a single mattress set in a humble garage on the Northside of Houston.
I know my family’s American success story would not have been possible without the welcoming atmosphere inspired by President Reagan and the legal path to citizenship he championed for my parents and others. He remains our hero.
The next generation of American success stories like my father’s is here now, and needs the same respect and help from our political leaders. The aptly named Dreamers were brought here as young children. This is the only home they know. They’ve grown up here, been educated in our neighborhood schools and played sports alongside our children. Dreamers make a huge positive impact on our economy and Republicans, Democrats and independents all agree they deserve the same opportunities enjoyed by every American. Despite growing up in our neighborhoods, starting businesses and paying taxes, many live in limbo unable to plan for the future. Texas federal Judge Andrew Hanen has made their uncertainty worse by declaring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as “DACA,” to be unconstitutional and halting protections for many Dreamers, making the need for Senate action even greater.
As Chairman of the Federation of Hispanic Republicans in Texas, I see U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz at a crossroads. On the one hand, they can demonstrate that they value the contributions of Hispanic voters and families — like my own — to our great state and country, by supporting common sense immigration solutions like the Durbin-Graham Dream Act. On the other hand, they can fail to seize this political moment and demonstrate that they take my vote, and those of the Hispanic community, for granted.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics will be Texas' largest population group within the next few months. Tens of thousands of U.S.-born Hispanics come of voting age every month. Many of these new voters will be first-generation Americans who, unfortunately, have a negative image of the Republican Party due to the frequency and volume of negative, anti-immigrant rhetoric spewed by party leaders.
Sens. Cornyn and Cruz can change this by supporting bipartisan immigration solutions most Americans agree with. This includes protecting Texas Dreamers by supporting the Durbin-Graham Dream Act. A majority of Texas voters support permanent protections for Dreamers.