FORT WORTH — After several hours of debate Saturday, the final day of the biennial state GOP convention, Republican delegates voted to remove the "Texas Solution" from the party’s official platform, reverting to a more hardline stance on immigration.
About 8,000 delegates gathered to consider the party platform and eventually rejected a proposed immigration plank that included language calling for a provisional visa program for immigrants. In its place, they adopted a plank that echoes the party’s 2010 platform. It does not call for a guest-worker program and instead calls for ending in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and prohibiting sanctuary cities — municipalities that do not enforce immigration laws.
While the platform is a non-binding set of principles for the party, it sets forth a powerful political statement of the party’s stance on key voting issues in an important election year.
Two years ago, Texas Republicans approved an unprecedented change to the party platform when it adopted language that called for a national guest-worker program. Going into the convention this week, Republicans were split on keeping that language. Tea Party activists were fiercely calling for its removal, while supporters of the plank had suggested modifying it by replacing the guest-worker language with a section calling for a provisional visa program that was intended to include immigrants looking to come to the country to work.
The provisional visa was part of the immigration plank that was first presented to delegates on Saturday. But another proposal that stripped the visa language won the day at the convention after some initial confusion over voting that led to a drawn out roll-call vote that lasted more than half an hour.
The newly-adopted plank mentions creating a “visa classification system for non-specialty industries” that have demonstrated labor shortages, but would only allow such visas when the “borders are verifiably secure” and the use of the worker verification system E-Verify is “fully enforced.”
Delegates who voted for the hardline language celebrated in loud cheers and applause.
More than 150 of the 200 proposed amendments to the party platform that were submitted to party leadership on Friday concerned immigration.
After the vote, Arturo Martinez de Vara, a member of the platform committee who supported the “Texas Solution,” said there was confusion among the delegates when the amendment was being considered.
“The first time they put it on the screen was the first time anyone considered it,” Martinez de Vara said. “Tomorrow I can tell you my opinion of it.”
When the GOP approved the “Texas Solution” in its platform two years ago, some Republicans hailed the the guest-worker language as a breakthrough for the party, particularly in its efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters who tend to vote Democratic.
In a statement, Emmanuel Garcia, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, criticized the Republican Party's decision on its immigration stance.
“The platform debate has proved once again that compassionate conservativism and the pragmatic Republican Party are no more,” Garcia said.