Texas GOP Calls For Guest Worker Program, Riles Some Conservatives | KERA News

Texas GOP Calls For Guest Worker Program, Riles Some Conservatives

Jun 11, 2012

The Texas Republican Party has adopted a plan for some of the illegal immigrants in our state. This weekend the party adopted a platform calling for a guest worker program.  

On Saturday at the Republican convention, Artemio Muniz was getting high fives and congratulations.

"It’s history in the making," he said.  "It’s huge." 

As chairman of the Federation of Hispanic Republicans, Muniz has worked to build party support for a guest worker program that could help resolve the question of what to do with more than 11 million undocumented people in the United States.

And with Hispanics making up 65 percent of Texas’ growth in the past decade Muniz sees the effort as party building.

"Demographics are shifting," he said. "We need the vote and this is the weapon we need to reach those people."

Late Friday night supporters overcame vocal efforts to include the guest worker program in the state Republican immigration platform.

It would allow immigrant workers to temporarily fill jobs when no U.S. workers are available.  It would require those with immigration violations, including those here illegally, to pay a fine before they participate.  Guest workers would have to be proficient in English and employers would have ensure the workers have healthcare.

Art Martinez the Mayor of Von Ormy near San Antonio helped draft the proposal.

"We need a solution that is going to affect the vast majority of immigrants and end this pool of people who are forced into an underground black market economy and do it in a way that protects our Texas economy," Martinez said.

But Collin County Republican Joleen Reynolds sees the guest worker plan as nothing more than amnesty.

"What you’re doing is granting amnesty, and the Republican Party has always been against granting amnesty of all kinds," she said. "It was by a renegade group that tried to come in and take over our party."

K.C. Broyles with the Clear Lake Tea Party believes it will only increase the number of illegal immigrants.

"People will come over here and stay just like they are today," she said.

The next step for supporters is a big one, guaranteed to provoke a battle.  They want to convince Texas’ Republican legislature to put the concept of a Texas guest worker program into law. 

The party's platform also dropped language from two years ago that called for punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants and denying healthcare undocumented people except for medical emergencies.