While I was researching Rick Perry’s position on sanctuary cities, I came across a Texas Tribune article by Reeve Hamilton and Matt Stiles on the subject that was published on May 4, 2010. The Tribune republished this article today. I recommend that readers access the entire article on the Tribune Web site. I will publish a couple of excerpts. Readers will recall that the Perry campaign raised the issue of whether, during the mayoral tenure of Perry’s opponent, Bill White, Houston was a sanctuary city–that is, a jurisdiction where law enforcement officials do not apprehend individuals and check their immigration status to determine whether they are in the country illegally–surfaced during the governor’s race last year. Here is the first excerpt from the Tribune article of 5/4/2010: [A] comparison of Houston’s policy under White and that of the Texas Department of Public Safety under Perry reveals little difference between the two — and their respective rationales are almost identical. So if Houston is a sanctuary city, is Texas a sanctuary state? “Yes, it is,” said Rebecca Forest, president of the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas, a Tea Party-friendly group that, like Perry, criticizes sanctuary cities and promotes border security. “The governor, I’m sorry to say, is on the wrong track. He should be doing the same thing as Arizona.” Perry’s campaign obviously disagrees. But Arizona’s tough new law granting local police the power to question and detain suspected illegal immigrants has added a new twist to this ongoing quibble. Perry said on Friday that the Arizona law “would not be the right direction for Texas” because “some aspects of the law turn law enforcement officers into immigration officials by requiring them to determine immigration status during any lawful contact with a suspected alien, taking them away from their existing law enforcement duties, which are critical to keeping citizens safe.” The second excerpt is a statement of the policy of the Department of Public Safety as of the date of the Tribune article: As enforcement of U. S. immigration laws is not the primary responsibility of the Department of Public Safety, the following policy is adopted to guide Department members. 98.01 Members of this Department will not engage in the enforcement of Federal Immigration Statutes by conducting road checks or business and residence searches unless assisting appropriate federal officers who have properly requested such assistance. 98.02 Members may arrest aliens under the following situations: 1. When serving a valid warrant after checking to see that the warrant is current. 2. For violation of state laws the same as any U. S. citizen. 98.03 Members will not arrest without a warrant an alien solely on the suspicion that he has entered the country illegally. It is clear, from Perry’s statements to the Tribune, and from the DPS policy at the time, that the DPS pursued virtually the same “sanctuary” policy as the city of Houston. (I am indebted to the Texas Tribune for their coverage of this issue.) * * * * Perry was right the first time: “The law turns law enforcement officers into immigration officials by requiring them to determine immigration status during any lawful contact with a suspected alien, taking them away from their existing law enforcement duties, which are critical to keeping citizens safe.” So, Perry was indeed for sanctuary policies (including for state troopers) before he was against them. Apparently he now believes that taking law enforcement officers away from their existing duties does not pose a danger to citizens. Perry’s designation of two sideshow issues as “emergency” legislation, when lawmakers should be spending every possible moment on the state’s budget crisis, is a continuation of his campaign tactics, which were to do everything possible to deflect voters’ attention from his mediocre record in Texas by throwing them red meat. He knows that the red-meat strategy works every time, because the suckers in the media and the Legislature. who have no respect for him will go crazy and rant about his irresponsibility and lack of concern for the “real” issues. And he just laughs at us for our impotence. The question we should all be asking is: Can Texas survive without eminent domain reform?
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