03/08/2013 10:31 am ET

What Undocumented Workers Really Want

HUNTSVILLE, Texas—Brad Bailey knows he has his work cut out for him. He sips a beer and watches as members of the Republican Party of Walker County mingle before their annual Ronald Reagan dinner. It’s an all-white, well-heeled group with a smattering of cowboy hats mixed in.

“What’s the crowd like?” he asks Tracy Sorensen, the party chairwoman. She tells him it’s mostly traditional conservatives, plus a few agitators for Ron Paul, the former House member and presidential candidate from Texas. “We’re glad to have you here,” she adds.

A restaurateur by trade, Bailey has become seasoned in politics as a city-council member in his hometown of Nassau Bay, Texas, and as someone who has made dozens of presentations to GOP groups around the state, all on the same subject: the urgent need for immigration reform. He is pushing for a way out of the party’s current dilemma in which voters view Republicans as obstructionists and naysayers.

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