Republican groups gathered to discuss state Legislature, executive orders

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U.S. Political communications junior Elizabeth Haynie, left, speaks with Travis County Young Republicans president Jared Staples at the TCYR’s first meeting of the year this Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: Alex Dolan | Daily Texan Staff

Travis County Young Republicans discussed the state Legislature and the new presidential administration’s plans Wednesday evening at the group’s first meeting of the year.

Jared Staples, who was elected TCYR president in December, said the organization does not back any specific bills, but he believes there has been a resurgence of the Republican Party at the state and federal levels of government.

“As a Republican group, we are very excited to have conservative representation,” Staples said. “We feel like it’s a good opportunity for economic development and growth, and a healthy change in course for our nation.”

Republicans currently hold the majority of the state Legislature’s seats, with 95 Republicans out of 150 in the Texas House and 20 out of 31 in the Texas Senate.

Capitol Republican Women, another group at the discussion, informs Republicans in the Travis County area about GOP-backed legislation and candidates. Tabatha Vasquez, the group’s president, said she is proud of the work from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, and his announcement to run for the position again in 2018.

“We’re just trying to spread the word of Republican values and to try to get people engaged,” Vasquez said. “We’re looking forward to having (Patrick) serve again, and if there is a primary, then we know it will be healthy debate, and it’s good for the party.”

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump made executive orders to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and take away grant funding from cities upholding policies that protect undocumented immigrants.

The orders were part of efforts to block immigrants and refugees from entering the U.S., and Staples said they will protect the states from dangerous individuals crossing over. 

“It’s refreshing to see a new narrative of putting public safety first,” Staples said.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, a Democrat, said she will not allow undocumented immigrants in local jails to be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a warrant. Another one of Trump’s orders includes defunding such “sanctuary cities,” and Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday the county would lose $1.8 million in funding from the state if her policy is in effect Feb. 1.

“We feel like it shouldn’t be an option for elected officials to decide whether or not they want to enforce the law,” Staples said. “To overtly refuse to do so is irresponsible.”

Trump is expected to issue another order banning refugees from many Middle Eastern countries from entering the U.S. Political communications junior Elizabeth Haynie, a College Republicans member, said the order is not reflective of the adminstration’s overall agenda.

“I think it’s a lot of political fanfare,” Haynie said. “It’s not something that’s permanent, and I don’t think it’s a representation of the adminstration’s actual desires.”

Protests followed Trump’s inauguration, such as a Women’s March that took place in cities across the world, including Austin. Rosemary Graber, the Capitol Republican Women’s secretary, said she appreciates the Women’s March but disliked how it excluded anti-abortion rights women.

“These women groups … that are open to discussion for the benefit of women … should include everyone,” Graber said.