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Julian Castro-Dan Patrick Immigration Debate May Happen After All

03/06/2014 03:33 pm ET | Updated Mar 06, 2014
Alex Wong via Getty Images

Julian Castro is ready to rumble.

The Democratic mayor of San Antonio, Texas, challenged immigration hardliner Dan Patrick to a public debate on the subject of immigration Tuesday, following Patrick’s win in the Republican primary election for Texas lieutenant governor.

This is not the first time Castro and Patrick have talked about facing off. Previous plans for a debate between the two Texas politicians fizzled out over conflicts about when to schedule it. In a tweet in January, Castro called Patrick the "most anti-immigrant Republican running for statewide office," prompting Patrick to call for a public debate.

But Castro asked to schedule it after the March 4 primary election, presumably to avoid helping Patrick boost his standing among the party’s conservative base, according to The Texas Observer. Patrick responded by releasing a campaign video from the Alamo in San Antonio accusing Castro of backing out.

"I'm ready, Mayor, anytime -- you just name it," Patrick says in the video. "The fact is, you don't really want to have a serious discussion on this issue, because you know you're on the wrong side of it."

Patrick now has four dates to choose from. His campaign manager, Logan Spence, said the politicians have yet to agree to a date, but they likely would soon.

"I think it's gonna happen -- we've just got to work out the details," Spence told The Huffington Post. "We're in a runoff campaign and we're focused on that, but we'll find a way to squeeze this into the schedule."

Patrick, who has the support of many Tea Partiers, has campaigned as a border hawk who views undocumented immigrants as a public security threat. He has pledged to repeal a state law that extends in-state tuition to undocumented residents, and has repeatedly warned of a "Mexican invasion."

Illegal crossings from Mexico have leveled off since the economic crisis of 2008. The total undocumented population of Texas, not all of whom are Mexican, rose by 200,000 to 1.75 million between 2008 and 2012, according to the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.

Castro has repeatedly compared Patrick to Pete Wilson, a former governor of California widely viewed as having alienated his state's Latino voters from the Republican Party by pushing measures to crack down on illegal immigration. The most famous of those efforts, Proposition 187, would have barred undocumented immigrants from using public schools, hospitals and other public services. Voters approved the referendum in 1994, but a federal court later found it unconstitutional.

Patrick's ideas have resonated with Texas GOP voters. He came in first place in Tuesday's primary and will now head into a runoff election on May 27 against current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, an establishment Republican.

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