Maybe this conservative isn’t such an immigration hardliner after all.
Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, who has made cracking down on illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign for lieutenant governor, employed undocumented immigrants at a sports bar he owned in the 1980s, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.
Miguel Andrade told the paper that he was one of at least four undocumented immigrants from Mexico who worked for Patrick. Andrade, who worked as a dishwasher and as a cook, said he was hired by a manager, but that he told Patrick about his migration status.
Patrick denied knowingly hiring undocumented workers at his bars in a statement, calling it a smear and saying his businesses “had literally hundreds of full-time and part-time employees.”
Andrade normalized his status following the 1986 immigration reform signed by President Ronald Reagan.
Hiring undocumented workers was not illegal at the time that Patrick employed Andrade, though it runs contrary to Patrick’s politics. His three opponents in the GOP primary pounced on him after the report.
“The fact that Dan Patrick knowingly hired illegal immigrants to work at his sports bar, his personal bankruptcy in which he failed to pay his debts, his years of tax liens, and lawsuits for failure to pay property taxes disqualifies him from running for lieutenant governor,” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who is running against Patrick for the Republican nomination, said, according to the Austin Statesman.
Another opponent, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, hired a private investigator to look for evidence of Patrick hiring other undocumented immigrants.
Patrick has attempted to stake out the most hardline position on illegal immigration in a hard-fought Republican primary in which all four candidates have campaigned as border hawks.
Andrade says he respects his former boss, but that Patrick’s immigration politics prompted him to speak to the press.
“He’s dividing the races,” Andrade said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “That is not the country I want for my kids.”
On his website, Patrick says that as lieutenant governor, he would work to “prohibit the knowing employment of illegal immigrants.”
Patrick warns of a “Mexican invasion,” though net migration from Mexico dropped to approximately zero in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. The unauthorized population of Texas has grown in only modest terms since the crisis, from 1.55 million to 1.75 million -- not all of whom are Mexican.