Urging "a more compassionate, understanding, and knowledgeable tone" in discussing immigration issues, state Rep. Jason Villalba has penned an open letter to his GOP colleagues currently locked in a four-way primary race for lieutenant governor. 

The Dallas Republican, who is Hispanic, said that as he was watching a recent televised debate among the four candidates, he became troubled by the language they used to explain their positions on border security.

“Friends, these 'illegals' are people. They are human beings who love their little ones just as much as you and I love our little ones. They want a better life for their families and they want their children to have a better life than they have had," he wrote. "No, this does not mean you have to abandon your conservative principles and support open-borders amnesty or reward those who have broken our laws. But it does mean that you should take just a moment to acknowledge the humanity of a hard-working and productive people."

Immigration policy has been a central issue in the race for lieutenant governor race, in which two statewide officials and a state senator are challenging incumbent David Dewhurst. Rhetoric from the candidates has become increasingly heated, in particular from state Sen. Dan Patrick, who recently drew criticism from Hispanic Republican groups for referring to the influx of undocumented immigrants to Texas as an "illegal invasion."

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