Email, Jordan Berry, spokesman, Bryan Hughes campaign, Dec. 10, 2015
1) His words
In the Tyler Morning Telegraph on July 21, 2014, Simpson was quoted saying the following after a trip to valley:
“We do have a problem with drugs and warlords taking advantage of the situation,” he warned. “We have to require a fulfillment of promises to appear before immigration courts to enter schools. We need to determine the status of these immigrants and not put them in this limbo. They can get an education but not get a driver’s license. That’s not right. We do need to secure the border against crime and terror, in order to defend life, liberty and property. I welcome people to come. We need workers. We do need to limit our health care to emergencies and critical care to immigrants as well as citizens. What’s going on in emergency rooms is not right. We need to stop the freebies, and open the legal pipeline while continuing to secure the border.”
Currently, state law requires us to educate every minor, regardless of their immigration status, but it does not allow for "resident driver’s’ permit" (also known as drivers licenses for those here illegally).
What Simpson is clearly saying here is that it is not right for us to pay to educate people here illegally, but then not allow them to have drivers licenses.
2) Background: Resident Driver’s’ Permits or Drivers License for Illegal Immigrants
In 2008, a rule was added to the Texas Administrative Code by DPS banning individuals here illegally from receiving drivers licenses. In 2011, the legislature added a provision into statute requiring driver's license applicants to show they're in the country legally. Article from Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Rule-requiring-Texas-drivers-to-prove-citizenship-2078990.php)
Since the passage of this amendment, there has been a push to establish a "resident driver’s’ permit" program for those here illegally. The argument is that if licensed, those here illegally will obtain automobile insurance.
The last two sessions, Reps. Byron Cook and Roberto Alonzo have both fought hard to get legislation to do just this through the legislature.
While an actual bill has not made it to the floor for a vote, they have tried their luck with amendments.
On one occasion, as Rep. Simpson conveniently points out, the amendment was killed with a point of order. (1). On two other occasions, the measure went up for a vote and was defeated with a majority of Republicans voting against. (2 & 3). The first amendment garnered 16 Republican votes, many of which were later changed in the House Journal. The second one received only 6 Republican votes.
Representative Simpson voted for both amendments and did not correct his vote in the House Journal.
This Houston Chronicle article nicely summarizes the ordeal (please note in particular Rep Alonzo's quote at the end):http://blog.chron.com/texaspolitics/2013/05/house-to-resurrect-driving-permits-for-undocumented-immigrants/
House to resurrect driving permits for undocumented immigrants
By David Saleh Rauf
Lawmakers pushing a proposal to offer undocumented immigrants specialty driving permits will try again today to attach an amendment onto a Senate bill set to hit the House floor (read more on the measure here).
Rep. Robert Alonzo, D-Dallas, said supporters of the effort have targeted Senate Bill 1705 as their next potential vehicle for the drivers’ permits language. SB 1705 would allow entities outside of the Department of Public Safety — like the military or driver education providers — to administer driving tests.
“What we’re aiming to do is let the House vote on whether they believe we should have a Texas resident driver permit program,” Alonzo said.
Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, tried on Friday to tuck the drivers’ permits language into a proposal — Senate Bill 1729— that would create a pilot program for county employees to start issuing duplicate driver’s licenses. That effort was quickly scuttled when Rep. Van Taylor used a parliamentary move to the kill the amendment.
Supporters are more confident this go-round, however. That’s because they floated a successful trial balloon — another amendment when SB 1729 came up for third reading Monday.
The amendment offered Monday would have allowed the specialty driving permits to be part of the county pilot proposed in SB 1729. It would have still required the Legislature to separately approve the resident driving permit program for undocumented immigrants.
The amendment, however, proved to be an effective way to gauge the sentiment of the House on the broader topic of whether there is enough Republican support in the lower chamber to move forward with the plan. It mustered a total of 72 votes, including 17 ayes from Republicans (the amendment failed because it needed 100 votes to pass on third reading).
If those 72 votes stand, it could be enough later today to tip the scale in favor of those pushing for the resident driving permit program.
“What it shows is there is will,” Alonzo said. “Now we got to work to make it happen.”
3) Conservative Third Party Validation:
In David Simpson's press release asking Bryan Hughes to apologize for pointing out his record on this issue, Simpson mentions third party conservative group ratings as a metric for evaluating his record in the legislature.
Those same organizations have both even commented on the specific votes taken on this issue:
- Empower Texans criticized the amendment Simpson voted for saying, describing it as "an amendment to Senate Bill 1705, to give drivers licenses to illegal immigrants" (4).
- Young Conservatives of Texas stated on their scorecard, "Amendment 1 to SB 1729 would have allowed for illegal immigrants to receive drivers licenses" (5).
2) SB 1729 - Amendment 1 (2013) Record Vote 971: www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/83r/pdf/83RDAY76FINAL.PDF#page=74
3) SB 1705 - Amendment 1 (2013) Record Vote 1052: http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/83r/pdf/83RDAY77FINAL.PDF#page=118