Can the Arizona immigration law affect the Texas governor's race?
Tue April 27, 2010 1:51 pm

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that a march protesting Arizona’s immigration law is scheduled for Saturday. A crowd of 100,000 is expected. This is a long way from the 500,000 who protested a crackdown on immigration in 2006. Nevertheless, the rising passion over the issue poses problems for Rick Perry. The Perry campaign has pretty much tiptoed around the immigration issue, having little to say about the Arizona law. Perry’s approach up until now has been to criticize the feds for failing to secure the border and to grab an occasional headline by setting up an ineffectual border cameras program or sending the Texas Rangers to perform unspecified duties.

Houston TV station KHOU contacted Perry’s office for a comment and received this answer:

“We haven’t seen the legislation, but the federal government needs to take its responsibility seriously and secure the U.S.-Mexico border. We can’t have true immigration reform without a secure border.”

When KHOU asked Perry’s spokesperson if [the governor] would support similar legislation in Texas, she said he couldn’t answer that question.

Yeah, I wouldn’t want to answer the question either if I were Perry. He doesn’t want to get anywhere near that question. It is potential dynamite in Texas. What happens if the grassroots of the Texas Republican party demands that Texas pass a similar law? What happens if the issue catches fire among Hispanics? The only real hope the Democrats have of winning a statewide race in the foreseeable future is for the sleeping giant of the Hispanic vote to awaken. That’s what Perry has to worry about, and that is why he has pretty much remained mum about the Arizona law.

The Perry campaign has criticized White in the past for, in its view, allowing Houston to become a sanctuary city during his mayoral terms. But the alternative is to have local law enforcement agencies execute the immigration laws, which is what the Arizona law authorizes. If that were to happen, who is going to go after the real criminals?

The good news for Perry is that the immigration issue is going to have to get a lot hotter before it impacts the governor’s race. The bad news is that it is probably going to get a lot hotter. The New York Times carried a story today saying that critics of the law were seeking a national boycott against Arizona tourism, which is probably the state’s biggest industry. This is likely to bring pressure upon Republican governor Jan Brewer, who signed the controversial legislation into law.

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