Lots of news since I last checked in, from Texas and DC. We’ll have more posts next week, but in the interim, feel free to discuss the following, or anything else of interest, amongst yourselves.
1) On Tuesday Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, and Joe Straus announced a deal to extend funding to the border surge that began this summer. Brian Rosenthal has a summary of the deal at the Express-News: $86.1 million in funding will be redirected from various state accounts to support an expanded law enforcement presence (DPS rather than National Guard) until early summer.
Of particular note, I thought, were the comments offered by Perry and Dewhurst. “Texas has proven beyond any doubt that this border can be secured,” said Perry, in his statement announcing the extension. Dewhurst concurred: “In the absence of sufficient action from the federal government, the state of Texas has proven it is possible to secure the border, reduce crime, and combat the impacts of illegal immigration.” In other words, both Perry and Dewhurst are saying that as a result of the expanded operations and additional resources provided by the surge, the border is secure, at least in Texas. This is striking because of the longstanding conservative argument that immigration reform should wait until the border is secure–a valid goal, but a nebulous one, since there had previously been little agreement about the threshhold for “secure.”
2) Separately–very separately–on Thursday Barack Obama announced executive orders which will protect some five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, at least for the next few years, and allow many of them to work legally in the interim. The move was a response to what the president characterized as Republican intransigence; he is reportedly frustrated after having asked Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform since 2013, after his 2012 re-election campaign.
Polls suggest that a majority of Americans are sympathetic to Obama’s policy goals, but skeptical of his approach here: just 38% approve of his decision to skip the legislative process. Republican leaders, of course, are more than skeptical, and the fact that national progressives are casually dismissing critics as crypto-racists does not bode well for expanded comity in Washington.
3) Meanwhile, to the extent that Obama’s motive here is political–to win Hispanic voters to the Democratic party–I’m skeptical that it will work as intended for a number of reasons, including that in Texas, election results suggest that Hispanic voters do not necessarily respond to Hispanic-themed issues in the way that the national parties might predict–I’ll take a closer look at this next week.
4) Meanwhile, Ken Paxton returned a pen.