Two years ago, Sen. John Cornyn said a border fence was a bad idea. Last month, he voted to build one.
Critics accused Mr. Cornyn of pandering to his Republican base. The senator said he has been consistent in his goal of securing the border.
In recent years, Mr. Cornyn repeatedly said a wall would be impractical and a waste of money.
In 2004, he said that "we cannot and should not build a wall on the U.S. and Mexico border." In November 2005, he called "a fence or a wall at the border a 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem. ... Can't people just go around it?"
Last month, he and fellow Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who has been more consistent in her public comments, voted for a $3 billion measure to build 700 miles of fence and 300 miles of vehicle barriers and to beef up the Border Patrol.
Brian Walsh, a Cornyn spokesman, said there was no inconsistency. He said Mr. Cornyn's past remarks referred to a 1,800-mile fence, not a shorter one.
Laredo banker Dennis Nixon, a major Bush fundraiser, said the region's economic well-being as well as the party's political future is being jeopardized by "extreme elements of the country who have got this protectionist mentality."
"It's a mistake for the Republican Party to allow Lou Dobbs, [Sean] Hannity, [Bill] O'Reilly and all these right-wing people to set the agenda," said Mr. Nixon, chairman of IBC Bank, the nation's largest Hispanic-owned bank.
"Candidates have been demonized by people who are interested in security only, who don't understand the river, who don't understand the border, have been sold a bill of goods that some simplistic thing like building a fence is going to solve the problem," he said.
But don't worry. There is something you can do about it:
State Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston and lawyer Mikal Watts of San Antonio, who are seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Mr. Cornyn, have signaled they will make immigration an issue in the race.
They both oppose building a fence on the border.