The 2018 Texas GOP Convention Will Be Held In San Antonio — It Shouldn’t Be

Multiculturalism is not an election year political prop
(Photo: Facebook/City of San Antonio-Municipal Government)

(Photo: Facebook/City of San Antonio-Municipal Government)

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.

“We believe our city will serve as a perfect location to encourage a huge participation from all over Texas,” said Bexar County GOP Chairman Robert Stovall. “We look forward to working on this event in conjunction with the State Party and believe this will be the best convention in Texas History.”

Website of the Lieutenant Governor</a>)&#8221; class=&#8221;aligncenter size-full&#8221; />Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (Photo: <a href="">Website of the Lieutenant Governor</a>)

Website of the Lieutenant Governor)” class=”aligncenter size-full” />Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (Photo: Website of the Lieutenant Governor)

Given that the Texas Republican Party recently adopted Senate Bill 4, a “show me your papers” law that disproportionately affects Latinos it is disrespectful they would choose to hold their convention in the largest majority Latino city in Texas.

Senate Bill 4 allows peace officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest, including during routine traffic stops. Texas Governor Greg Abbott proudly signed the bill on Facebook Live and tweeted previously that he was “getting his pen warmed up” to sign SB4.

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, around 90% of these individuals are of Mexican descent, and 16% are foreign born immigrants.

Texas Republicans have been on the forefront of extreme state immigration policy in the United States. In addition to SB4, 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.

On their official website, the Texas Republican Party uses the outdated term “illegal alien” to describe people in the state without their legal papers. This loaded term is not widely used in San Antonio (even by Republican politicians) and carries a racial connotation in Texas because an overwhelming majority of the state’s undocumented immigrants are Mexican.

“No tax dollars to be provided for social or educational programs for illegal aliens; rescinding existing laws providing for instate tuition, non-emergency hospital care, requiring all employers to utilize E-Verify systems to confirm the legal status of all new hires; rejection of non-verifiable foreign issued identification cards as legally valid in the United States.”

-Texas Republican Party Platform

Two of the most well-known Texas Republicans are Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, both appear on national television regularly to advocate against the rights of Latino immigrants. Both Patrick and Cruz support President Trump’s border wall, which would significantly harm the economy of San Antonio and other majority Latino cities in south Texas that sell goods to Mexico.

Lt. Governor Patrick listed SB4 as a top priority on his campaign website and has referred to Latino immigrants as “invaders” that bring “third-world diseases.” He served as the Texas State Chairman for Trump’s presidential campaign. During that campaign, Trump infamously said Mexican-American judge Gonzalo Curiel could not be objective because “he’s a Mexican.

Senator Cruz is of Cuban heritage, but has led the fight against bipartisan immigration reform in the U.S. Senate. On the presidential campaign trail he claimed to have added an amendment that killed the Senate’s 2013 attempt at immigration reform. His claim is questionable, but he clearly enjoys having his name associated with the effort to keep more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. Cruz was also a vocal supporter of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which allowed police to check the legal status of anyone they pulled over and was widely seen as a method of racial profiling against Latinos.

In February, Cruz invoked his Cuban heritage to make an awkward comment about U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro and his brother, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro. He compared San Antonio’s Castro brothers to Cuban Dictators Raul and Fidel Castro. Joaquin considered a Senate run against Cruz before eventually deciding against it.

The disdain for Latinos shown by Texas Republicans at the state level has been co-opted by local Republican groups in counties across the state.

In west Texas, the Lubbock County Republican Party regularly uses their official Twitter account to demonize Mexico, Mexican Americans, and Mexican immigrants (and many others).

300 miles southeast of Lubbock, Denton County GOP Chairwoman Lisa Hendrickson used her Facebook and Twitter pages during the election season to share multiple articles containing “fake news” about Latino immigrants committing voter fraud.

In August, Rep. Castro noted the hypocrisy of then candidate Trump coming to a fundraiser in San Antonio after demonizing Latinos during his campaign. San Antonio was one of the few large cities where Trump did not host a rally, possibly because of backlash he would have received from the city’s Latino community.

If the Republican convention is held in San Antonio it will be comprised of superficial gestures of goodwill aimed at San Antonio’s multicultural society as Republicans seek their votes in the 2018 mid-term elections. Perhaps Senator 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 if Texas Republicans cannot respect the Latinos who make up San Antonio, they should not reap the benefits of dynamic multiculturalism when they need a cool place to throw a party.

News // Immigration / Multiculturalism / Politics / Texas