Mainstream Texas Republican leaders are trying to encourage the conservative grass roots to agree to immigration reform, as the issue threatens to divide the powerful Texas GOP going into the summer party convention and the November elections, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Several key Republican leaders and leaders of Republican aligned groups, and even a few Tea Party organizations, are urging the grass roots to come on board what it called the 'Texas Solution,' which includes legalization for non criminal illegal immigrants already in the U.S., specific programs to secure the border, permission to work as part of a 'guest worker' program, but no path to citizenship.
Patterson had choice words for those conservatives who cling to a 'no immigration reform' stance.
"Innately biased in the whole concept," Patterson said. "I guess you could call them 'nativist'." And no matter how much you talk to them they always keep coming back to a 'bumper sticker cliché'."
Patterson is a living, breathing example of how difficult it will be to convince grass roots Texas conservatives to agree to any type of compromise in the border issue. Patterson was clobbered in his race for Lieutenant Governor earlier this year by Dan Patrick, who made opposition to any compromise a key to his campaign.
Patterson says he is tired of hearing Texas conservatives describe any attempt at immigration reform as 'amnesty.'
"We have 12 million people here are undocumented, and you plan on doing nothing when them, that is supporting the status quo, which in my view is de facto amnesty."
He says while conservatives push a hard line, no compromise attitude on immigration reform, illegal immigrants continue living illegally in the U.S., which is essentially allowing them to remain.
Bill Hammond, President of the Republican-allied Texas Association of Business, says a worker shortage in many sectors of the booming Texas economy is starting to hurt employers.
"A year ago it took four months to build a house in Dallas, and now it takes six months," he said. "There are not enough sheet rock workers, framers, etc."
Hammond said the Austin tech industry is currently looking abroad for 7,000 skilled IT workers because they can't find workers to fill the jobs in the U.S.
The Republican leaders are moving on the immigration 'normalization' campaign ahead of next month's Republican State Convention. Many party members are afraid that the convention will scrap the 'Texas Solution' in favor of a hard line anti-immigrant approach which will hurt the party with Latino voters in November and beyond.