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The Brief: Jan. 28, 2013

The immigration debate about to descend on Washington has already pushed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz into the spotlight.

Ted Cruz at the JW Marriott hotel in Houston on May 29, 2012.

The Big Conversation

The immigration debate about to descend on Washington has already pushed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz into the spotlight.

Cruz's reaction to the flurry of activity this week on federal immigration reform could prove pivotal to the debate — and has already stirred up speculation about the freshman Republican.

Today, the day before President Barack Obama announces his proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators — including John McCain, R-Ariz.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — will unveil an immigration plan of their own. The senators' proposal reportedly includes a pathway to citizenship for the country's 11 million illegal immigrants and increased border security. 

As National Journal notes, attention now turns to Cruz, a Tea Party conservative and one of the U.S. Senate's two Hispanic Republicans. The other, Marco Rubio of Florida, another rising star in the party, has signed on to the senators' plan.

"Cruz’s movements in the immigration fight will be closely monitored, especially as they differ from positions supported by Rubio, who has been actively making the case for his own brand of an immigration overhaul," the Journal writes.

The senators' proposal, as The New York Times reports, is said to include stricter border enforcement measures and a less direct pathway to citizenship than Obama is likely to propose.

Cruz, who has said he opposes amnesty and the DREAM Act, told Newsmax that any immigration proposal must focus on securing the nation's borders. But he added: "We need to remain a nation that doesn’t just welcome but that celebrates legal immigrants, those who follow the rules, who come here legally and seek the American Dream. That’s been the great strength of our country for centuries."

Capitol Notes
Compiled from Tribune reports

•    Garcia, Alvarado Headed for Runoff in SD-6: "Former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia held on to her edge against state Rep. Carol Alvarado in the Senate District 6 special election on Saturday night, and they're headed for a runoff. Garcia finished with 7,416 votes, about 45.4 percent of the ballots cast. Alvarado received 6,803, about 41.6 percent. Republican R.W. Bray, who garnered 29 percent of the ballots during the November general election, received about 1,000 votes, or 6.2 percent."

•    Video: Hundreds Crowd Capitol to "Rally for Life": "The state's Republican leaders each took turns at the microphone on Saturday afternoon to rouse what Gov. Rick Perry called a record crowd at the annual Texas Rally for Life."

•    Bills Would Protect Gays From Employment Discrimination: "Senate and House companion bills filed this session could add 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity and expression' to the list of unlawful discriminatory practices in the Texas Labor Code."

Texas news from across the state and around the web

•    Texas: Lawsuit Permitted Over Immigration Policy (The New York Times): "A federal judge in Dallas has ruled that a group of federal immigration agents can proceed with a lawsuit that seeks to halt an Obama administration program granting reprieves from deportation to young illegal immigrants."

•    Gov's security travel tab just keeps rising (San Antonio Express-News): "Gov. Rick Perry added more than $140,000 to the state-paid travel tab for his security detail toward the end of 2012, with nearly half of that going toward a trip to Italy to promote the state and lure investment, according to records from the Texas Department of Public Safety."

•    DPS exec gets extra pay under special deal (Austin American-Statesman): "Nim Kidd, the man in charge of emergency management at the Texas Department of Public Safety, is the agency’s highest-paid executive, by far. His $223,000 compensation in fiscal 2012 exceeded that of his boss, DPS director Steve McCraw, by almost $60,000. But the 43-year-old Kidd, a former district fire chief in San Antonio, appears on no state payroll."

Quote of the Day: "The ideal world is one without abortion. Until then, we will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law." — Gov. Rick Perry, on Saturday at the annual Rally for Life event at the state Capitol


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