Immediately after Arizona passed it's controversial anti-immigration law SB 1070, leaders in Texas weighed in and gave their take on it. Some conservative Lawmakers immediately launched a petition drive to Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus demanding that they get serious about dealing with the invasion of illegals that is transforming Texas, and give us a bill that's just as powerful and effective as the one that just became law in Arizona. This peitition was put forth via the Peter Morrison Report.
Governor Perry was quick to respond by saying he didn't think Texas needed this type of law, citing that it would make the job of law enforcement difficult. Knowing Perry it was hard to tell whether or not he was taking this softer more empathic stance to win over Latino voters or if he really felt that way.
Some of the confusion came from recalling how Perry hooked up with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani last fall and headed down to the border to talk tough about immigration and the threat on the border caused by transnational gangs.
Whatever Perry's public position has been, his party has decided to take a more hardline stance over the weekend during the Republican State Convention held in Dallas. Here over 8000 people gathered to vote on the party's platform. Immigration was at the top of the list.
The immigration proposal, a hard-line approach that Perry has said isn't right for Texas, was one of several initiatives debated as delegates wrapped up the two-day convention. The Republican Party platform is a blueprint of the policies that GOP activists want elected officials to pursue.
Delegates voted to include a plank advocating for a state law that would bar illegal immigrants from "intentionally or knowingly" living in Texas. Similar to Arizona's strict law that has sparked nationwide debate, the proposal would require local police to verify U.S. residency when making arrests.
Perry has said the Arizona law, if adopted in Texas, would unduly burden police.
The Texas GOP push to be more Arizona-like has been part of a larger trend among states ranging from left leaning Minnesota to nearby Oaklahoma to crack down on 'illegal' immigration.
The trend has also impacted the Democrats who in the 08 election enjoyed widespread Latino support because they had promised to put forth comprehensive Immigration Reform. Unfortunately for those looking for leniency, the Democrats after conducting a number of focus groups and studies on the issue and have announced a new 'get tough' strategey which leans in the direction of zero tolerance and includes lawmakers no longer referring to immigrants as 'undocumented workers'. The term 'Illegal alien' is being re-adopted with New York senator Chuck Shulmar, who supports immigration reform, leading the charge. He is said to 'scold' advocates who use the tern 'undocumented'.
Sadly the use of this word and the new adaption by Democrats threatens to undue years of campaigns by Latinos to not use that term. Activist and Trail of Dream Walker Gaby Pachecho talked with us about how the term is not only incorrectly used, but serves to dehumanize people.
Schumer who now has a number of students doing a hunger strike in front of his New York office has reiterated his initial proposal which is to push for strict enforcement before going for reform.
How all this plays out among Democratic Texans remains to be seen. Former Houston Mayor and gubenatorial candidate Bill White has long said he thinks SB 1070 type laws would be bad for Texas. He would be wise to maintain that position and not call any members of the states large Brown population 'Illegal aliens' if he wishes to get their votes.