A tone test looms for Texas GOP

By Patrick Svitek, Houston Chronicle

la-pn-rick-perry-reagan-mantle-50-years-after--001President Barack Obama is announcing Thursday that he’s taking executive action to shield millions of people in the country illegally from deportation. We wrote last week that Texas’ elected leaders – many of them Republicans ready for another clash with the federal government – have been bracing for the decision for weeks. They say it will incentivize more people to cross the border illegally and prove to be an even greater financial strain than what the state is already facing.

Expect Greg Abbott, who has two months left as attorney general before moving into the Governor’s Mansion, to sue the Obama administration for the 31st time and claim Obama’s plan is unconstitutional. Other politicians, no doubt, will claim the federal government is overstepping its boundaries.

While the statewide reaction is playing out almost to a script, it’ll nonetheless be interesting to see what tone Texas Republicans set as their statements start pouring in ahead of Obama’s announcement. If Obama announces what he’s expected to announce, they’ll be on the spot more than ever to grapple with what’s happening on the border as a humanitarian issue, not one of public safety, the far more politically agreeable side of the coin.

In nominating Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos last week to be secretary of state, Abbott spoke of him as “someone who can cultivate strong ties along the border as well as strong bonds across the border.” Minutes later, he decried Obama’s “version of dictatorial powers,” again hinting he would take legal action against the president if he granted a legal reprieve to millions of people in the country illegally. How Republicans reconcile those two views – and their respective tones — as Obama rolls out his plan could speak volumes about the political direction of the state.

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