Texas Conservatives Try "Gringo Inreach" on Immigration

His language was later adopted into Republican National Committee's platform in August. Bailey acknowledges, however, that the prevailing view of the GOP is poor among Hispanic voters in large part because of its damaging rhetoric and enforcement-only approach to immigration.

"We have alienated the fastest-growing demographic in the country," he said. "we are being viewed as oppressive, as hateful, as elitist. That's not a good thing.

But some at the panel still believe that conservative's can't abide a shift on immigration.

"It's hard to believe in a new policy when we don't enforce all the old laws," said Brian Kennedy of the conservative Claremont Institute in California. "There is a simple question of justice here. You have a lot of Hispanics in this country who are working very hard, who have come here legally, who are citizens, who are having their jobs taken away by people who have come here illegally."

But Staples disputed that idea, arguing that the nation's current immigration laws have made it extraordinarily difficult for agricultural businesses all over the country to staff themselves.

"No one is relocating to the Rio Grande Valley to pick grapefruit," he said. "Our country is not producing the workforce necessary to meet the market demands of our economy."

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."

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