Dear Mark: I am upset with the Republican Party of Texas. As a Hispanic Republican (yes, we do exist), I am frustrated that delegates at the Republican State Convention decided to end in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and place that in their platform. If Republicans want more Hispanics to join the party, why would they do something like this? — Hecho en Texas
Dear Hecho: Thank you for being honest about your concerns regarding the Republican Party of Texas Platform's view on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.
I was fortunate enough to attend the State Republican Convention in Fort Worth, and I can tell you from personal experience that the "in-state tuition" plank of the platform was not voted in because of malice toward Hispanics. Granted, some people are jingoistic, but for the most part the plank was inserted for pragmatic budgetary concerns about who should receive such benefits and who is going to pay for them. Heck, even President Obama is concerned about the skyrocketing cost of college although he will never touch this part of the issue.
The media is already distorting several planks of the platform in order to aid their cause, and liberal groups would have you believe that Republicans are simply racist. They cite the immigration plank as proof while ignoring the fact that Ted Cruz won the presidential straw poll.
Achieving harmony and understanding between Hispanics and Republicans is not a one-way street where Hispanic special interest groups dictate the terms of acceptance. Both sides have relevant concerns, and both sides deserve to be heard.
For instance, Texas Republicans understand that the country is $17 trillion in debt and that the end to feckless spending in Washington is nowhere in sight. Many Republicans also believe in the rule of law and recognize that millions of people are in fact here illegally. Combine the two issues and one should be able to easily understand that when millions of our own citizens are hurting economically, it's difficult to justify borrowing money from China and giving it to people who are knowingly breaking the law.
The tough immigration stand of Texas Republicans may also stem from frustration with President Barack Obama, who has openly told his Department of Homeland Security to ignore our current immigration laws. Convention delegates also didn't appear to trust Washington Republicans who seem eager to ram through toothless comprehensive immigration reform for political reasons as opposed to actually solving the problem. One needs to look no further than the defeat of Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia this week.
With that in mind, Republican leadership also understands the need to engage groups that typically do not affiliate with Republicans in an effort to better understand their positions. In fact, one of the overarching themes of the Republican convention centered on actively reaching out to the Hispanic and black communities in order to discuss the shared values Republicans have with these groups.
During the convention I had the pleasure of interacting with several Hispanic leaders who are part of an organization called The Federation of Hispanic Republicans. These young men were dynamic individuals who eloquently articulated the Christian values and work ethic that Hispanics have in common with the Republican Party. They all agreed that proactively engaging Hispanics is a great idea and a tremendous opportunity to not only share Republican values with the Hispanic community but also an opportunity for Republicans to listen to the needs of the Hispanic segment of our population.
The Hispanic people represent a beautiful culture rich in so many ways. But just as Hispanics don't want to be painted with a broad brush based on a few bad apples, Hispanics shouldn't misinterpret the Republican platform and paint with that same brush.
E-mail your questions to [email protected] To find out more about Mark Levy, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkPLevy