Texas GOP Will Use A Majority Latino City To Push Anti Latino Policies
This post has been updated from its original version posted on March 10.
Last August in the midst of the 2016 Presidential Election, officials for the Texas Republican Party announced they will be hosting their 2018 state convention in San Antonio.
The news went largely unnoticed last summer. It should now be reevaluated after Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) ended the 85th Texas legislative session, already tainted by racially discriminatory policies, by calling Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the intention of having Mexican Americans protesting at the State Capitol in Austin removed.
Given the disdain for Latinos shown by Texas Republicans during the 2017 legislative session, it is disgraceful they would choose to hold their convention in the largest majority Latino city in Texas.
In short — they should keep their racist policies and rhetoric out of San Antonio, one of the most diverse cities in the country.
After informing a group of Democrats that he had called ICE to report Latino protesters, Rep. Rinaldi then threatened to “put a bullet” in the head of his colleague Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass), according to witnesses.
“He saw the crowd and he saw illegals. He saw people that, whether he likes to accept it or not in his heart, he has hate for those people and he wants to see them gone,” Rep. Ramon Romero (D-Fort Worth) said of Rinaldi. “[He] wants to see them gone so much, to the point that he called ICE.”
Rinaldi admitted to threatening Nevárez in a Facebook post, but he wrote that the comment was made in self defense.
The Latino activists at the State Capitol were protesting against Texas’ Senate Bill 4, a “show me your papers” law that disproportionately affects Latinos and passed the Texas Legislature in April with only Republican votes.
Senate Bill 4 allows law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest, including during routine traffic stops. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, hosted a Facebook Live session to sign the bill and tweeted previously that he was “getting my signing pen warmed up” to sign SB 4.
The Texas sanctuary city ban wins final legislative approval. I'm getting my signing pen warmed up. #txlege #tcot https://t.co/OHmspC5Zhz
Texas Republicans have been on the forefront of extreme immigration policy in the United States. In addition to SB 4, the state party’s platform calls for the holy trinity of repressive immigration law: build President Donald Trump’s border wall, remove all paths to legal status for undocumented immigrants, and expedite deportations for non-violent immigrants.
The most well known anti-Latino voice in Texas is the state’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who appears on national television regularly to demean Latino immigrants. Lt. Governor Patrick listed SB 4 as a top priority on his website and has referred to Latino immigrants as “invaders” that bring “third-world diseases.”
San Antonio’s population is roughly 63% Latino. According to a 2014 Pew Study, the San Antonio Metropolitan area is made up of about 1.25 million Latinos. About 90% of these individuals are of Mexican descent and 16% are foreign born immigrants.
If the Republican convention is held in San Antonio it will be comprised of superficial gestures of goodwill aimed at the city’s multicultural society, as Republicans seek to expand their electorate in the 2018 mid-term elections. Perhaps Ted Cruz will make another endorsement of chips and queso.
Organizations love to host conferences in downtown San Antonio. Enjoying a coffee on a hotel balcony overlooking the majestic trail of the river walk is a lovely way to start a day at the convention. But Texas Republicans clearly do not respect the Latinos who make up San Antonio. They should not be allowed to reap the benefits of dynamic multiculturalism when they need a cool place to throw a party.