Capital Tonight: Political world reacts to Castro-Patrick debate on immigration

It started out as a Twitter spat, but on Tuesday night, Sen. Dan Patrick and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro finally met face-to-face for a debate over immigration reform and border security.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at highlights from the debate, plus we spoke to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose attempts at immigration reform in Washington have drawn widespread attention.


What does our immigration system look like now? The co-director of UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, Denise Gilman joined us to focus on the facts about conditions on the border, the reasons for illegal immigration and more.


One of the questions in Tuesday night’s debate centered around former state Rep. Aaron Peña, who’s accused both the Democratic Party of taking Hispanics for granted and the Republican Party of going too far with anti-immigrant rhetoric. We sat down with Peña and Democratic strategist Harold Cook to get their take on the debate, and to dig into some new poll numbers on statewide races.


The state’s driver responsibility program is getting a second look, after criticism that it unfairly targets low-income Texans. We heard what local judges think about a possible change.

Dewhurst responds to opponent’s undocumented worker troubles

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is responding to a recent Dallas Morning News article drawing negative attention to his opponent, Sen. Dan Patrick, for allowing undocumented immigrants to work under him 30 years ago.

“I’m shocked and disappointed at the hypocrisy of Dan Patrick. It’s just one more example of preaching one thing and doing something else,” Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst addressed the controversy while speaking to reporters at an early voting event in Austin Thursday. Sen. Patrick has said he wasn’t aware that four men working in his Houston-area sports bars in the 1980s were in the country illegally, and that the workers falsified their employment forms.

The information came to light after a private investigator hired by one of Patrick’s opponents, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, contacted one of the workers.

Sen. Patrick has made border security and illegal immigration key issues in his campaign, and the revelation sparked criticism from all three of Sen. Patrick’s opponents in the lieutenant governor’s race.




Capital Tonight: Candidates walk careful line on border issues

Attorney General Greg Abbott is standing by his comments comparing corruption in border communities to practices found in “third-world countries.” But he is clarifying that he wasn’t singling out the Rio Grande Valley.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how Abbott is dealing with the political backlash and heard how his fellow Republicans are responding.


He’s the only statewide-elected official among the three Republican candidates for attorney general, but Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman has a tough challenge ahead of him. We spoke one-on-one with Smitherman about his campaign, immigration reform and more.


While most candidates for statewide office are taking a tough stance on border security, some Republicans worry the tone of the conversation could alienate potential voters. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about how the debate could shape future elections.


Capital Tonight: Dewhurst pushes for increased border security funding

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is praising tighter border security measures and pushing to make them permanent. Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw joined Dewhurst at the Capitol Wednesday, to announce that the most recent three-week increase in land, air and water surveillance was effective in curbing crimes by drug cartels and stopping smuggling across the border.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at whether the so-called surge can get long-term support in spite of $60 million in funding needs and a history of local criticism.


The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about the strategy House Speaker John Boehner may be taking on immigration reform.


Plus, a new study suggests child poverty in Texas has increased over the last decade, even as the economy improved. The director for Kids Count, Frances Deviney, joined us to break down the data and talk about how to reverse it.

Capital Tonight: Undocumented students continue immigration conversation

Even after a conservative student group has agreed to cancel its planned demonstration, another group of students is working to continue the conversation in a less controversial way.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to an undocumented University of Texas student about what he hopes to see in the larger political debate.


The David Dewhurst campaign is out with its first statewide TV ad, touting the Texas miracle. Our capital commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, weighed in on where Dewhurst stands in his bid for another term as lieutenant governor.


While most of the Republican races for statewide office have multiple candidates, few have dared to challenge a member of the Bush family in the race for land commissioner. We sat down with David Watts to talk about why he’s giving it a shot

UT student group cancels controversial immigration event

The head of a campus conservative group has agreed to cancel a planned event, known as the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game,” after negative feedback from University of Texas officials, immigrant rights groups, Democrats and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

In a statement, Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Lorenzo Garcia announced he would call off the event, which was planned for Wednesday.

“After the University President and the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement released statements denouncing the event we planned as violating the university’s honor code, I spoke with our chapter’s members, and they are both concerned that the university will retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers.”

At least one counter-demonstration will go ahead as planned. The University Leadership Initiative will march from the UT tower to the district office of Congressman Roger Williams to call for a conversation on immigration reform.

Abbott disavows former staffer’s ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ event

Attorney General Greg Abbott is forcefully distancing himself from the actions of a former staff member, who announced plans to hold a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” on the University of Texas campus.

In a statement released today, Abbott called the tactic “repugnant” and compared it to protests over abortion law during the first special session.

“Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort.  Illegal immigration and the failed policies of the Obama Administration are not a joking matter.

“Conservatives should not stoop to the level of liberals, whose shenanigans at the Texas Capitol this summer, including chants of ‘hail Satan’ during Senator Davis’ filibuster to allow abortions after five months, did nothing but sidetrack the Texas Legislature.”

The stunt was announced by Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Lorenzo Garcia. In an event planned for Wednesday, students would “catch” anyone wearing a clothing with the words “illegal immigrant” attached to it in exchange for a $25 gift card.

The group described it as an effort to spur “campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration.”

UT denounces ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ game

The University of Texas is joining critics of a planned ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game planned for Wednesday. The event, organized by the Young Conservatives of Texas, involves people walking on campus wearing signs that say “illegal immigrant.” Students who “catch” them win a $25 gift card.

The University has been critical of other YCT events, including an affirmative action bake sale held last month. In a statement today, UT called the tactics “inflammatory and demeaning.”

“Once again in trying to be provocative, the YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff by sending the message that certain students do not belong on our campus…”

“If the members of YCT carry out their plan for “Catch an Illegal Immigrant,” they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture. And once again, they will have resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”

UT Austin President Bill Powers also responded to the planned event. In a statement posted on the university’s web site, he said:

“The proposed YCT event is completely out of line with the values we espouse at The University of Texas at Austin. Our students, faculty and the entire university work hard both to promote diversity and engage in a respectful exchange of ideas. The Wednesday event does not reflect that approach or commitment.

As Americans, we should always visualize our Statue of Liberty and remember that our country was built on the strength of immigration. Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students.”

The university Staff Council voted unanimously to endorse the statement shortly after it was released.

Democrats blast conservative group’s illegal immigrant game

A planned “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game at the University of Texas is sparking outrage from Texas Democrats.

The Young Conservatives of Texas, whose chairman is a former Greg Abbott staffer, is hosting the event on Wednesday. People wearing “illegal immigrant” signs on their clothes are planning to walk around the UT campus. Students who “catch” them will receive a $25 gift card.

YCT Chairman Lorenzo Garcia says the purpose of the event is to “spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration and how it affects our everyday lives.”

Garcia no longer works with the Abbott campaign. However, that did not stop Democrats from using the event to criticize the GOP frontrunner in the governor’s race.

The Lone Star project released this statement:

“The “game” at the University of Texas Campus goes far beyond a display of bad taste or insensitivity.  It reflects Greg Abbott’s open hostility to Hispanic Texans.  As State Attorney General, Greg Abbott played the lead role in advising the Texas Legislature to adopt redistricting plans that intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and other Texas minority voters.  He has spent millions of dollars in Texas taxpayer money to defend the discriminatory plans and to argue that key US Voting Rights Act provisions designed to protect minority voters against discrimination be overturned. ” 

Here’s what Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa had to say:

“Greg Abbott has already put fear into the hearts of hardworking college students in Texas, through his refusal to take a real position on the Texas DREAM Act. While Abbott has said he doesn’t support the DREAM Act as it is, he refuses to say what he would change and if he supports it at all. And now one of his staffers is organizing theatrical arrests on campaign. Our young and promising DREAM Act scholars already live in enough fear of Abbott, without his staff also forcing them to watch mock arrests.

This is an incredible shame. Greg Abbott owes Texas DREAM Act scholars an apology, and he must come out and immediately denounce Wednesday’s event. This style of hatred and fear is not the type of leadership Texas deserves.”

The YCT has been criticized in the past for similar events, including an “affirmative action bake sale,” where students are charged different prices based on their ethnicity.


Capital Tonight: US Rep. Pete Gallego talks immigration reform

After his request for a new study on the impact of immigration reform was declined by the state comptroller’s office, Congressman Pete Gallego is making his dissatisfaction with the decision known. We spoke to Rep. Gallego about an earlier study looking into the same issue, the need for updated information and where reform stands in Washington.


We also spoke with Austin’s business community to find out how immigration reform would affect the state’s economy. Click the YNN logo below to see that story, plus our full interview with Rep. Gallego.