The border crisis has been called a lot of things – a humanitarian problem, a policy failure, a reminder of the unpredictable nature of globalization. It's also a reminder that Texas is already playing an outsized role in the 2016 GOP presidential race.
In Texas, the surprisingly complex patterns of public opinion on immigration call into question the conventional wisdom informing media coverage — and even political strategy.
Democratic and Republican voters favor many provisions of proposed immigration law reforms and of the Affordable Care Act. But the rhetorical emphasis on unpopular provisions of those policies has made them nonstarters with those same voters.
Republican candidates in Texas have figured out how to talk about immigration without stepping on political land mines: They talk about border security instead.
Uncomfortable questions about in-state tuition might prompt candidates like Greg Abbott to reach into Rick Perry's bag of tricks for an issue that addresses immigration issues without inflaming the wrong voters.
Data from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll suggests that the issues Sen. Dan Patrick invokes in the latest ad in his bid for lieutenant governor serve up very inviting bait for conservative voters, the big fish in GOP primary elections.
Republican voters in Texas still have immigration and border security atop their lists of most important problems facing the state, and their sway over members of the Texas delegation will be noted by political colleagues and potential opponents alike.
As many GOP leaders argue that passing comprehensive immigration reform is in the GOP’s best interest, some data suggests that the long-term interest of party strategists and the short-term self-interest of members of Congress are not necessarily in sync.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio hit the Sunday talk shows to discuss an immigration reform plan that he said would not provide amnesty. In Texas, a strong majority of Texans oppose a comprehensive overhaul, with the "pathway to citizenship" a likely stumbling block.
Many Republican officials are moderating their views on immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the U.S. Their voters, however, remain opposed to the idea. And Tea Party voters are strongly opposed.