The Big Conversation:
President Obama's major immigration announcement on Friday continues to reverberate through Texas.
Across the U.S., many immigrants and immigrant advocates have greeted Obama's executive order — which suspended the deportation of some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children — with joy, though some tempered their optimism with caution, saying specifics of the directive remain unclear.
In Texas, Republicans, as expected, slammed the announcement. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Friday called the move a "blatant political ploy." His opponent in the U.S. Senate race, Ted Cruz, called it "cravenly political."
But as the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports, the new policy has fixed the spotlight most squarely on Gov. Rick Perry, who has has defended a 2001 state law that extends in-state tuition rates to some illegal immigrants, but on Friday called Obama's order "election-year tactic to bypass Congress and arbitrarily grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants."
Unlike the federal DREAM Act, which Republicans have lined up against, Obama's order contains no pathway to citizenship for immigrants. It also bears little resemblance to the 2001 Texas law, which only applies to university tuition and financial aid. Still, critics of Perry say his opposition to the Obama move conflicts with his support for the tuition law, for which he received grief from conservatives while campaigning for president. "I think the governor’s position absolutely makes no sense given how much he defended the in-state tuition provision," said Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña. "He obviously felt a backlash from the right, and I think he’s trying to scale back on his support because he saw how much it angered his base."
Not so, said Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “First off, Gov. Perry has never bypassed Texas lawmakers on this issue,” she said. “It was a measure that passed overwhelmingly through the Legislature.” She added that Texas would not have been faced with the dilemma had the federal government not failed in effectively enforcing immigration policy.
Obama on Friday rejected criticism of the new policy, by which some illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who came to the U.S. before they were 16 will be able to secure work permits. "Let’s be clear: This is not amnesty, this is not immunity," he said. "This is not a path to citizenship, and it’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven and patriotic young people."
- Though their candidate has largely left the campaign trail, Ron Paul backers scored another minor victory this weekend, electing Paul supporters to fill a majority of Iowa's delegation that will represent the state at the party's national convention in August. Dave Cushman, a Paul supporter and Iowa activist, told The Des Moines Register that the group hoped to spread Paul's message, not to upstage Mitt Romney. "The goal is not to embarrass the party," he said. "The goal is to make the party stronger and broaden the base, and walk the Republican talk."
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today plans to announce the creation of a major new biosecurity center for developing "vaccines and medicines used to protect health in emergencies." The Texas A&M University System is holding a press conference at the same time today in Austin. Coincidence? Probably not.
- The San Antonio Express-News reports that House Speaker Joe Straus has been removed from a list of delegates for the Republican National Convention. Straus supporters added his name to the list, reportedly without the speaker's knowledge, but an activist has removed it. “The Speaker was one of Gov. Romney's earliest and most visible supporters in Texas, was with him last week in Texas and will continue to support Gov. Romney however he can," said Straus spokesman Jason Embry.
"Mark my words. By the end of the runoff David Dewhurst will have spent another $10 million of his own money flooding the airwaves with false, nasty attack ads. It will make the last few weeks of the primary look mild by comparison." — Ted Cruz to the Tribune's Jay Root
- Formula One Track, Nearing First Race, Gets Wary Embrace From Austin, The New York Times
- In Texas, working poor families struggle to get ahead, Austin American-Statesman
- Texas Democrats could learn from early GOP travails, Houston Chronicle
- "Band of Brothers" Pulls Strings for Cruz Campaign, The Texas Tribune