Meantime, at the same gathering of conservatives in Texas that Cornyn promised more of the same from Senate Republicans, a number of other speakers were starting to talk about why immigration reform is consistent with Republican small government, pro-family principles.
For all the talk about the need for Republicans and conservatives do to Hispanic outreach following the 2012 presidential election, they might be overlooking a more important task: "gringo inreach."
In other words, conservatives will need to reckon with themselves on the need to evolve their hardline stances on issues like immigration before they can successfully appeal to Latino, Asian-American, and black voters who have largely abandoned the GOP to join their ranks. That was the main takeaway of an immigration debate on Thursday hosted by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation in the state capital.
"Do we really want to grow a government big enough to round up 11 million people?" asked Todd Staples, Texas' agriculture commissioner who is running for lieutenant governor.
Brad Bailey, a Texas restauranteur and GOP activist gets it:
Of course, until the GOP as a party decides to endorse pro-immigration policies and stops giving leadership positions to anti-immigrants, stops incorporating anti-immigration planks in its platform and starts nominating pro-immigration candidates, their steady decline at the national level will continue. Some are starting to figure that out.
But beyond the policy specifics, Bailey and others reiterated that the most important thing for the Republican Party is to speak out against the anti-immigration forces within their ranks.
"They'll tell you behind closed doors 'I agree with you 110 percent.' But when they get to a microphone at a rally, it's 'ehhhh,'" Bailey said, describing some elected officials he's met. "This is a partisan issue because hey are being told what your friends think; that if you vote one way on this, you will be voted out."