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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Border crisis, economy driving Hispanics to GOP in historically deep blue South Texas

Republican political operatives, candidates, and elected officials tell Fox News Digital that the trend of Hispanic voters gravitating toward the Republican Party is changing the political landscape in Texas and making the GOP relevant in counties along the southern border which have been Democratic strongholds for decades.

An NPR Marist poll released last week shows that 52% of Hispanic voters would prefer a Republican candidate over a Democratic candidate in the November midterms and Wayne Hamilton, who runs Project Red Texas, told Fox News Digital that polling trend is very much evident in Texas thanks to the unfolding crisis at the border and the Democratic Party taking Hispanic voters in South Texas for granted. 

 Migrants are seen at the Rio Grande near the Del Rio-Acuna Port of Entry in Del Rio, Texas, on September 18, 2021. 

 Migrants are seen at the Rio Grande near the Del Rio-Acuna Port of Entry in Del Rio, Texas, on September 18, 2021. 
(International Bridge, whPhoto by Charlie C. Peebles/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


 “South Texas is as diverse of a place as you could imagine and going around saying that because someone has a Hispanic surname that they’re a Democrat, like most people outside of Texas and most in the media do is just blatantly racist, Hamilton told Fox News Digital. “Hispanics are individuals. They think for themselves.”

Thinking for themselves, Hamilton says, is why former President Trump saw an increase in support from Texas Hispanics in 2020 compared to 2016 largely because of the crime stemming from illegal immigration that has plagued border counties in South Texas where 90% of voters are Hispanic.

“What’s happening is the people are seeing the chaos that the Democrats have caused up and down the border by the crazy policies that they have,” Hamilton said. 

Hamilton says Republicans are increasingly active in Texas competing in areas where Democrats have previously ruled unopposed. Project Red Texas supported 54 candidates four years ago compared to 135 candidates currently, Hamilton says.

Judge Dale Lynn Carruthers, a Republican who serves as judge of Terrell County, Texas along the border, told Fox News Digital that the crime and economic strain caused by the border crisis is converting Democrats into Republicans across south Texas.

Border Patrol agents on horseback. (Fox News/Bill Melugin)

Border Patrol agents on horseback. (Fox News/Bill Melugin)

“The transition for people of actually transitioning from blue to red has a lot to do with the severe open border policies and what we’re going through now,” Carruthers, a rancher whose grandfather immigrated to the United States from Mexico, said. “Nobody wants their backyard invaded. Nobody wants their property invaded.


Carruthers explained that high speed chases between police and illegal immigrants on the interstate that runs through her county are common occurrences as is property damage to ranches like hers along the border.

“Nobody wants to walk to get to your backyard and see people complete strangers thinking that they have the right to take and do whatever they want to on your property,” Carruthers said. “Regardless of your culture, nobody wants that.”

Carruthers added that the lack of security at the border, along with skyrocketing inflation and rising gas prices, is causing people in her community who usually don’t vote to register to vote as Republicans.

Like Hamilton, Carruthers said that she has noticed enthusiasm for Republicans on the ground in south Texas and believes that the party’s emphasis on helping working families has resonated with Hispanic voters.

“I’ve just seen such a stronger presence and a sense of pride from the GOP because, number one, they’re standing for literally family values,” Carruthers said.  There’s no reason why the family should suffer financially, suffer with insecurities of worrying about if somebody is going to invade your property or your well-being. And when you compare parties in that respect, it’s transparent that one is promoting and actually creating the crisis.”

Ivan Andarza,  spokesman for Hispanic Republicans of Texas, told Fox News that he has also seen Hispanics flock toward the GOP in recent years but attributes a good deal of the shift to the popularity of former President Donald Trump and says it will be a key factor to see if Hispanics in Texas vote for Republicans in the upcoming midterms without Trump on the ballot.


In 2016, Trump lost the south Texas border counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Zapata, and Webb to Hillary Clinton by large margins. Four years later, Trump became the first Republican since Reconstruction to win Zapata County and came within five points of winning Starr County where he had lost by 60 points in 2016.

Additionally, the Republican share of primary votes in the recent 2022 primary jumped in all of Texas’ four southernmost counties compared to 2018 by double digits in each county.

Andarza says that Trump had a “tremendous” effect on strong Republican numbers in the border regions and believes Republicans can succeed again if they successfully nationalize the midterms and make President Biden’s policies, including the border, the main issue.

“They live it every day,” Andarza said about border town residents who are negatively affected by illegal immigration. “They see the disaster of the immigration policy especially now with Title 42 and the potential flood of new migrants that will put a stress on local communities. It’s a local taxpayer expense.”

Andarza agreed with Hamilton’s belief that Republicans in south Texas are energized and said that there is more outside money coming into local races than there was in the past.

“Over this last election when Trump ran and everyone saw the potential in Texas it helped focus a lot of resources in this area,” Andarza said. “It has helped tremendously with enthusiasm and there’s a feeling that this can be done and national donors are seeing that now.”

Maria Yvette Hernandez, a Republican candidate for judge in Starr County, Texas, is one of several Hispanic female candidates seeking public office in response to what she perceives as Democratic corruption at both the federal and local level.

In my particular county, our sitting Democrats have held public office for over 20 years, some of them even 40,” Hernandez told Fox News Digital. 

Those Democrat politicians, Hernandez said, have taken the Hispanic vote for granted. 

I think a lot of the misconception is that we [Hispanics] are Democrats because we’re poor,” Hernandez said. “They associate the fact that we’re in a very low income county thinking that that’s why we vote Democrat. But it’s our conservative values where our culture, in essence, is conservative just by nature. And they’re all assuming that we are Democrats because of per capita income and it’s not necessarily the case.”

In addition to the situation at the border, Hernandez says that the economy and inflation are driving Republicans in border areas to the polls.

A sticker of President Joe Biden is placed on a gas pump at an Exxon Station on March 9, 2022, in Lakewood, Colorado.

A sticker of President Joe Biden is placed on a gas pump at an Exxon Station on March 9, 2022, in Lakewood, Colorado.
(RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

According to a Quinnipiac poll in April, Biden’s approval rating with Hispanic sits at 26% with the majority of Hispanic voters saying that inflation and border security are the two issues that concern them most.

“We’re law-abiding; we worry about our safety; we worry about our economy; we love our country,” Republican judicial candidate for the Texas Thirteenth District Court of Appeals Aaron Peña, who switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2010,  told Fox News Digital earlier this year. “And everything the current Democratic Party stands for is contrary to that.”

Fox News’ Bryan Preston contributed to this report

Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to AndrewMark.Miller@Fox.com.

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