President Donald Trump’s alleged comments on immigration have sparked plenty of outraged comments on both sides of the aisles. Now, what political fallout, if any, will there be for America, and even Houston?
In a tweet, President Trump denied using the offensive phrase during a private meeting with members of Congress over immigration. However, other people inside the room insist he did, and it’s drawn criticism for members of his own party.
Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) described the situation as “very unfortunate” and “unhelpful.”
“He should not be denigrating the citizens of other countries,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “It also does not help us come up with a bi-partisan approach to immigration.”
“I worry the impact this will have on the negotiation for these groups,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
Some Houston-area Democrats, like State Senator and Congressional candidate Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), also worry about the political fallout.
“I think it hurts our country’s image,” said Sen. Garcia. “I think it hurts our international relationships. I think it hurts our economic ability to work with other nations on trade agreements.”
Sen. Garcia also believes the rhetoric doesn’t play well in America’s most diverse city.
“(Houston) is where the American future is going to be worked out,” said Dr. Stephen Klineberg, Founding Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University.
For 37 years, Dr. Klineberg has studied Houstonians’ attitudes on immigration and other issues, releasing the results each spring in his Houston Area Survey.
The debate over President Trump’s alleged comments hits home in Houston, a city where more than one out of every four people is foreign-born and whose rapid growth since the 1982 oil bust was fueled by immigrants from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
Dr. Klineberg says while it’s still too early to quantify what kind of impact the current controversy may have, his research shows increasing acceptance of Houston’s immigration trends, including among Anglos, and especially among the youngest generation.
“The inevitability of this transformation is really powerful,” said Dr. Klineberg. “This is who we are, this is what we will be, and this can be the greatest advantage Houston can have as it positions itself in the global economy or it can tear us apart.”
Vlad Daviduik, Communications Director for the Harris County Republican Party, told KHOU 11 that President Trump “speaks for himself” and has denied using the exact words some are accusing.
Daviduik also said the local GOP has relationships with every single community, and they’re confident there won’t be any “organized negative response or blowback.”