Washington, DC – For the second time this week, Texas business leaders are calling on Texas Senators to help pass much-needed immigration reform to help the state’s economy, but Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz remain among the most ardent opponents. And it seems to be getting under the skin of Senator Cornyn, who tweeted a defensive response this week after being called out.
It started last week when the Austin American-Statesman published an op-ed by two board members of the American Business Immigration Coalition, Bill Lucia, former CEO of HMS Holdings and Stan Marek, CEO of Marek Brothers. They wrote:
“As current and former CEOs who have led large companies in two of Texas’ largest industries – health care and construction – we understand how undocumented immigrants sustain and grow Texas’ economy.
As Texan business leaders, we need our senators to recognize the uniquely high stakes our state faces when it comes to immigration reform. After 35 years of failing to address our nation’s undocumented immigrants, Americans cannot afford another year’s delay.”
It struck a nerve and prompted this Sen. Cornyn Tweet on Monday:
“Bill and Stan apparently doesn’t [sic] know Ds control the Congressional agenda or of my willingness to support common sense reforms…”
Then, today, in the Houston Chronicle, Steve Stephens, CEO of Amegy Bank and a member of Texans for Economic Growth, penned an op-ed connecting the labor shortages afflicting the Texas and national economies with the lack of immigration reform in Washington. Stevens wrote:
“[M]y team has talked with thousands of business owners this past year, and a majority share their growing concerns about staffing shortages. The situation is untenable. Simply put, businesses need reliable labor now…Pragmatic immigration reform can provide the much-needed labor.
Regardless of your political leanings, our workforce and businesses have been impacted far too long by the reality of a broken immigration system. It threatens our economic wellbeing. We must reach out to elected officials and urge them to find reasonable solutions towards immigration reform.”
At America’s Voice, we know John Cornyn. We once had hope for him, too. But he’s mastered the art of talking like he’s for immigration reform while simultaneously blocking it. Cornyn says pro-immigrant things to constituents and business leaders in Texas, then works with Sen. Cruz and the whole of the Republican Party to derail, gut or delay reform measures in the Senate. So egregious is this shtick we’ve dubbed it the “Cornyn Con” and have called him out repeatedly for it (see here, here and here).
Cornyn’s would-be Democratic partners in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), each called out Sen. Cornyn for putting partisan politics ahead of bipartisan immigration progress. Senator Durbin chastised Cornyn in a letter in July noting that Republicans had abandoned bipartisan talks after dozens of meetings yielded no progress. Senator Menendez noted, with deft understatement, “I’m beginning to realize the Republicans of 2021 are not the same Republicans I worked with in 2013 to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.”
According to Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Manager for America’s Voice:
Texans in general and the Texas business community in particular are growing increasingly impatient and are tired of the inaction and opposition to immigration reform from both Senator Cornyn and Senator Cruz. Both Senators will enthusiastically vote against the Build Back Better reconciliation package when it comes before the Senate, which is expected to provide legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, including many Texans who call our state home.
Texans see through the Cornyn Con. He talks a good game on immigration out of one side of his mouth with Texans while leading the fight to undermine bipartisanship and oppose broad immigration reform that would help Texans in the Senate. There is no room for pro-immigrant politicians in the modern Republican Party as long as former President Trump and his anti-immigrant base are in charge.
What Texas needs are Senators – and a Governor for that matter – who look out for the economic interests of the state, help Texans regardless of where they were born, and move the state forward rather than playing on fears to move their political careers forward.