A conservative Texas congressman came out in favor of a guest-worker program this weekend, and now he's facing the wrath of anti-immigration groups who say he's promoting what amounts to amnesty.
Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas) said in an opinion piece for Politico that his party was "silent" on the immigration debate during election season and called for Republicans to support several specific immigration proposals.
"Tangled up in embarrassing statements about rape and abortion and notably silent on immigration,"
He noted that Democrats and Republicans can agree that undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes be returned to their home countries.
But he followed that statement with a policy stance that drew immediate fire from the self-proclaimed "immigration enforcement and border security advocacy" group, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC).
"A good starting point for a legislative package is the so-called Texas Solution,"
A guest-worker program would permit U.S. employers to sponsor non-U.S. citizens as workers. Proponents say it would help fill job openings that American workers simply will not consider, such as picking crops. But some say the idea promotes amnesty.
"This is the first time in our organization's 8 year history that any candidate endorsed by ALIPAC has defected to join the illegal alien invasion and Amnesty supporters," read a post on their website. "Let's work together to throw
The guest-worker program is not a new idea. It was part of both the Texas and national GOP platforms. Brad Bailey, one of the author's of the Texas platform's immigration language and a vocal supporter of including the idea in the national platform, told Univision News in June, "I call it the third rail of politics now, immigration. No one wants to touch it. I think we proved that in one of the most conservative places in the country, we can embrace a solution."
Yet ALIPAC opposes
"We need a strong political backlash to
Poe also said in his piece that a documentation process should be implemented, but stressed that he didn't mean citizenship.
"Documentation does not mean citizenship and all of the rights that the term bestows. It means a type of legal status, either temporary or permanent, for some that are here, and it also means a pathway home for those who are here to commit crimes," he said.
"Those given legal status would contribute to the U.S., primarily by paying taxes, for the benefits that they enjoy by being in the U.S. Amnesty is not an option,"
Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for
"If a guest-worker program was implemented, he would not support a pathway that included citizenship," she said.
Hynes said her office had received only a handful of calls from opponents of the guest-worker program.