As some of you may already know, a CNN debate on immigration between myself and Representative Debbie Riddle has been scheduled and re-scheduled for the past three days. The first two times, our segment on the Tony Harris show was bumped due to breaking news (first, the BP oil spill and then the arrest of the Times Square bombing suspect).
Representative Riddle has stated publicly that she intends to file immigration legislation here in Texas similar to the recently passed and highly controversial law in Arizona. I disagree that this type of legislation is what is best for Texas.
During my research for the debate, I found a radio interview Riddle gave with KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston on April 30, 2010. During this interview she made the comment that a drastic immigration reform bill similar to Arizona's does not garner the support of minorities in Texas because "when you have people that are used to entitlements, then they like the entitlements and they want the entitlements to keep coming." The past few days, my Facebook and Twitter have been open forums for discussion about this debate and the issue of immigration. When I posted these remarks, my online community had the same reaction that I did: outrage.
Needless to say, I woke up this morning ready to debate. After a few cups of coffee, I made the commute from my home in San Antonio to the uplink location in Austin. Around ten minutes before we were scheduled to go on air, CNN informed me that Representative Riddle had canceled her appearance. The reality that she made the decision to back down from such a crucial debate leads me to believe that she is unable and unwilling to defend her position on immigration and her egregious remarks about Texas minorities.
Her failure to follow through with her commitment speaks volumes and I want to tell you that Texas deserves better. Texas deserves better elected officials who make informed policy decisions and don’t make generalizations about minorities or people who take advantage of social programs in this tough economy. Texas deserves lawmakers who rise to the occasion and defend their convictions. Most importantly, Texas deserves a better stance on immigration than a racist and fiscally irresponsible law that violates civil rights.