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Tensions Rise Between Booming Hispanic Population and Texas GOP

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Friday, March 25, 2011   

EL PASO, Texas - As Texas government was turning overwhelmingly Republican in recent years, many Hispanic voters were turning their backs on the GOP. Now Hispanic conservatives are questioning Republican initiatives seen as unfriendly to their constituencies. This has prompted the Republican Party of Texas to withhold support from Hispanic groups seen as attacking elected Republicans.

Adriana Cadena, alliance director for the nonpartisan Border Network for Human Rights, claims that Texas Republicans used to be more moderate. Today's lawmakers, she says, are pushing an agenda to please a right-wing base.

"Some of these proposals - particularly that deal with voter identification, with education, with immigration - are really alienating Hispanics away from the party."

Texas' six Hispanic Republican legislators supported the controversial Voter Photo ID bill passed this week in the House. Cadena expects they'll face more pressure from both sides as they take up measures such as an Arizona-style anti-immigration bill.

Budget battles also are causing division. Now that more than 50 percent of Texas public-school students are Hispanic, proposed deep cuts to education spending will hit Hispanic families hard, Cadena says. The GOP is embarking on a politically short-sighted strategy, she says, adding that the Hispanic vote has not historically belonged to either party.

"We're not doing justice to the American political system. If we really want democracy to work, all these parties should be grabbing for that vote."

Just-released census figures confirm that Texas will see a Hispanic majority within a decade.


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