The Texas “No Amnesty!” Party Convention wraps up Saturday, maybe Saturday night.That is, if Republicans can adjourn between the shrieks of “No amnesty!”Even gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott wasn’t spared shouts Friday, when he carefully promised to crack down on “drug cartels and gangs” but also spoke Spanish to salute his family’s Texas-Nuevo León ancestry.Amnesty is not on the convention agenda. Nor is it in the proposed platform to be debated Saturday. Nor was it in the 2012 platform.Yet somehow, amnesty has become the party’s Great Satan, even more feared than old-school GOP bugaboos like gays, creeping Shariah or Rocky Mountain wacky herb.It’s a close call, but illegal immigrants might have become more reviled at this convention than gay marriage. For example, the proposed platform defends ministries promoted as “reparative” therapy for gay “healing,” also known as “pray the gay away.”On the other hand, illegal immigrants get no preaching or spiritual self-insight. Only an invitation to self-deport.The platform facing a vote Saturday offers one slight hope: It calls for Congress to offer provisional work visas for a few English-speaking immigrants after they pay administrative fines and back taxes.To the nativists shouting in the crowd, that’s “Amnesty!”For example, based on its handouts, the Grapevine-based NE Tarrant Tea Party is against all immigration.Yes, legal or illegal.A poster at the group’s exhibit booth calls the work-visa idea “corrupt.”The NE Tarrant group also distributes handouts from the Illinois-based, uberpatriotic Eagle Forum: “How Mass [Legal] Immigration Dooms a Conservative Republican Party.”Get it now?Sure, immigrants or their children might vote for faith, free enterprise and Republicans. That’s good for the party, right?But some Tea Party voters fear that more immigrants might be centrists.Solution: Anytime someone mentions the border, interrupt and roar “No amnesty!”State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, argued at texasgopvote.com that rejecting immigrant work visas today will make it too easy for Democrats to take over Texas and thus dominate U.S. elections.“If we remove [the visa proposal], we will put the party at great peril,” he wrote.“The future of the Republican Party hangs in the balance.”In the exhibit hall crowd Friday, former Kingwood Tea Party officer Gus Faris scored Abbott autographs for his family, then talked about facing “such a fight” Saturday. “There is so much emotion over the idea of amnesty and what might lead to amnesty,” he said, shaking his head.“We all have the same ideas. Shut the border. Stop the gangs. But after that … the idea is to find some way to let people raise families.”If you only shout “No amnesty!” — you wind up with no Texas.
Bud Kennedy’s column regularly appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at RebelMouse.com/budkennedy