Texas Rep Wants to Import AZ Immigration Law

A Republican Texas lawmaker plans to introduce a tough immigration measure similar to the new law in Arizona, a move state Democrats say would be a mistake.

Rep. Debbie Riddle of Tomball said she will push for the law in the January legislative session, according to Wednesday's editions of the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle.

"The first priority for any elected official is to make sure that the safety and security of Texans is well-established," said Riddle, who introduced a similar measure in 2009 that didn't get out of committee. "If our federal government did their job, then Arizona wouldn't have to take this action, and neither would Texas."

The Arizona law would require local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status -- and make it a crime for immigrants to lack registration documents.

The measure is already making an impact in North Texas. Organizers for a rally against the immigration law said Tuesday they hope for 100,000 protesters to show up for a Saturday march in Dallas. Leaders of various groups are planning to attend.

"What I say to the African-American community: If they come in the morning for brown-skinned people, and we remain silent, they may come in the evening for us," Peter Johnson, of the Peter Johnson Institute of Non-Violence, said.

"This wholesale idea of just questioning everyone who looks differently or who has an accent or whose eyes look differently than ours is not the way to address this issue," said Cheryl Pollman, president of the National Council of Jewish Women.

The Dallas Tea Party said it will plan a counterprotest for another time.

Phillip Dennis, a member of the group's steering committee, said states have to step up because the federal government has failed to enforce immigration laws. He said he and his wife, who is a legal immigrant from Colombia, are familiar with the process of emigrating to the United States.

"We paid by the rules, we jumped through the hoops, and we paid the money -- thousands and thousands of dollars," he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday that a Justice Department review is under way to determine the constitutionality of the Arizona law.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat and former president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, called the law "extremely damaging and hateful."

Van de Putte predicted failure for any similar measures in Texas and said the GOP would suffer politically for such a move.

Asked about the Arizona law, GOP Gov. Rick Perry and his Democratic challenger, Bill White, emphasized through spokespeople that immigration is a federal responsibility.

Jim Harrington, of the Texas Civil Rights Project, predicted any similar effort in Texas would fail because Texas has "a different relationship with the Hispanic community."

"You can take the political temperature by just looking at Rick Perry being quiet," Harrington said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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