Texas Republican Personifies Challenge for Immigration Bill
The 70 or so constituents — largely older, largely white — who filled the small, warm room in the Gonzales Municipal Building were more curious than combative, more earnest than angry. They wanted to know, for instance, why Mr. Farenthold thought that Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, had supported the Senate’s immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country. “I think he wants to be president,” Mr. Farenthold said with a laugh.
Just to highlight how the redistricting in Texas has changed things and disenfrachized Hispanics …
Mr. Farenthold is among the House Republicans who have expressed some openness to an immigration overhaul. Elected in 2010 on the Tea Party wave, he defeated a longtime Democratic incumbent by 800 votes. His district at the time stretched from Corpus Christi down to Brownsville, on the border with Mexico, with Hispanics making up more than 70 percent of the population.
After a politically favorable redrawing of his district after the 2010 census, Mr. Farenthold now holds what is considered a safe Republican seat, with a decreased, but still significant, share of Hispanics — 49.5 percent, according to the census.
For many other House Republicans, however, the redistricting changes were starker, creating little political incentive to support an immigration overhaul.
Only 24 Republicans sit in districts that are more than 25 percent Latino, and last year Mitt Romney won 17 of those districts by more than 10 points. That leaves, said David Wasserman, the House editor for The Cook Political Report, only a handful of districts that are “substantially Latino and remotely competitive.”
Redistricting, Mr. Wasserman added, “makes the Republican majority in the House almost impenetrable,” but it also makes the job of Speaker John A. Boehner “almost unmanageable.”