Update, 3:15 p.m.:
The speeches from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's state website were pulled down after reporters began calling about his controversial 2007 remarks on border and immigration issues, an aide said.
Spokeswoman Lauren Thurston could not give an exact date for the removal. But she said it happened recently, after reporters began calling the office about a speech that Dewhurst gave in Laredo in February 2007. The Houston Chronicle posted a blog item and a link to the speech on June 27.
The lieutenant governor's office had asked more than a year ago that all of his speeches be removed from the internet and sent to archival storage. At that time, a button allowing computer users to access Dewhurst speeches was taken off the government-run website. But the speeches could still be found online through a standard Google search.
Once the 2007 speech began generating calls to the office, the lieutenant governor's state-paid staff asked that the links to the speeches be disabled.
“Our attention was alerted to it when people started asking about that speech," Thurston said. "The Mr. South Texas speech." The remarks were delivered at the event in which Dewhurst was given the honorary title.
Meanwhile, Dewhurst spokesman Mark Miner said Dewhurst has not changed his views on a guest worker program. He said the lieutenant governor has always favored securing the border first, before pursuing "other things" in the immigration arena.
At the most recent televised debate in Dallas, Dewhurst signaled a willingness to embrace a guest worker program if the border is brought under control.
“The federal government has done a terrible, terrible job in trying to secure our border. I don’t support a guest worker program, never have, until and unless Congress addresses this, but after and only after, we have secured our border," Dewhurst said.
The office of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst recently removed all of his speeches from his state website — including a controversial address in which he expresses support for giving work visas to illegal immigrants, an aide to Dewhurst said Wednesday.
Dewhurst spokeswoman Lauren Thurston could not say precisely when the speeches were taken down. But the campaign of Ted Cruz, his opponent in the U.S. Senate GOP runoff, showed in screenshots that the 2007 speech about immigration and border issues was available as late as June 27.
Thurston said someone in the lieutenant governor’s office asked the secretary of the Senate to remove all of the speeches a year ago, but that order was never carried out.
“When we saw that the speeches were not removed, we asked the secretary of the Senate to complete our original request,” Thurston said. She said the removal was done “recently” but she could not give a precise date.
The speech, delivered on Feb. 17, 2007, in Laredo, has now become a major flashpoint in the race between Cruz and Dewhurst. The lieutenant governor, who presides over the state Senate, made the remarks after being recognized as “Mr. South Texas.”
In the address, Dewhurst articulates a moderate view about immigration and border policies. He said he was opposed to building border walls, and he argued in favor of establishing a “humane presence at the border.”
“I support secure borders both north and south, and I support a guest worker program for those here today illegally,” Dewhurst said in the written remarks. “Labor and skilled workers are critical to our Texas economy. Our federal government needs to get its act together.”
The remarks did not generate a whole lot of attention at the time. A lot of Republicans, including former President George W. Bush, favored some sort of guest worker program. But few do now, and that includes U.S. Senate candidate David Dewhurst. His campaign spokesman, Mark Miner, said he couldn’t say what the lieutenant governor said or supported in 2007.
“I can only speak about what his position is now,” Miner said. “He doesn’t support a guest worker program.”
John Drogin, Cruz’s campaign manager, questioned whether state workers were inappropriately involving themselves in Dewhurst’s U.S. Senate campaign by removing such material from the state website.
"David Dewhurst has gone from whitewashing his record to literally deleting it, but Texans aren't fooled,” Drogin said. “Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, David Dewhurst's words in support of amnesty are preserved for all the public to see."
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