WATCH: How one Koch-backed group is selling immigration reform to the tea party

WATCH: How one Koch-backed group is selling immigration reform to the tea party

The first came from a man concerned about securing the U.S.-Mexico border; he asked if Garza believed it should be guarded by U.S. military.

“There’s no question that we need to do more to secure the border,” Garza said. “But I think by absorbing those folks that are industrious and hardworking and want to contribute to the American economy, we can then get to the priority issues which is the folks that would do harm to America.”

“But the border is so open right now,” the man responded, according to the video.

“That’s because we don’t have a law that allows to absorb folks that we can quantify and qualify with work visas and these kinds of things and keep tabs on them. We don’t know who’s here. …We don’t have a system that allows us to process them.

“Militarizing the border, that’s too severe for me,” he added. “I think there’s other ways we can do it.”

Later, a woman who identified herself as “Shirley,” said she had been robbed by immigrants who she believed had “destroyed” the state of California.

“I fled California because the Hispanics, the illegals, destroyed California. They closed hospitals in California. They destroyed the fabric of that state,” she said. “You’ve exaggerated and made them appear wonderful and just coming here to work. I’ve been robbed twice. It was by an illegal in California. ...The border has to be closed. …The illegals do not want to be Americans. They do not want to assimilate.”

“Look,” Garza said, “with all due respect, we have differences with how we see the immigrant community. But I think I’ve been honest. I did say that there is a certain sector of all immigrants—of all immigrant groups—regardless of race, regardless of nationality—that are here to exploit the American system. To exploit our social welfare issues. …But look, the vast majority of immigrants, the vast majority of immigrants, are here to work hard to contribute to our economy. And I know we have that difference, but we’ll agree to disagree.

“You have to ask yourself that question,” he went on to say, “Would you do the same in their position?”

“No!” the woman said from her seat.

Garza, now far from the script he had in front of him, became animated.

“It’s a tough life to live in the shadows and not be able to assimilate and to have your children treated be treated as others. To be treated as almost like their aspirations are not equal to other American kids even though they were born in America as well. That’s a difficult life to live as a parent and for the children,” Garza, who’s own parents were migrant workers from Mexico, said. “That’s a reality that we have to deal with, and inaction is not acceptable as a policy position. I will state my case and be very forceful about that, just as you will.”

 The presentation ended, Garza said, with a standing ovation from “about half” in the audience. The other half, he noticed, sat quietly.

In an interview with Yahoo News after his Scottsdale speech, Garza said that the challenge of convincing non-Hispanic conservatives is “by far” more difficult than winning Hispanic hearts and minds for the conservative cause.

“It’s important that we not only do the outreach to the Hispanic community but it’s also important that we do outreach to the non-Hispanic conservative movement,” Garza said. “The issue of immigration in and of itself is so complex and so emotionally charged. Immigration means change. It’s folks from the outside coming in.”

“It’s a process,” he said.

Read more from Yahoo! News


More Articles