Pros, cons of Arizona-type immigration law in Texas




Posted on June 25, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 25 at 6:53 PM

The big anticipated ruling on Arizona's tough immigration law came down from the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

The decision also affects North Texans and the rest of the state.

Arizona wanted to:

  • Give police the authority to check people's immigration status if they're stopped for a different reason.
  • Let officers arrest someone without a warrant if they have probable cause the person is an illegal immigrant.
  • Make it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or apply for work in the state.
  • Require all immigrants to carry registration papers.

The Supreme Court upheld the first part, meaning Arizona police will try to verify a person's immigration status during a stop. But the justices struck down the other three components of the Arizona law.

The ruling opened the debate again about whether new immigration laws are needed in Texas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said the 2010 Arizona law wasn't "the right direction" for Texas. He doesn't like the requirement to ask about immigration status; Perry prefers that officers have the discretion to ask, a question that some cities like Dallas forbid.

But others still want an Arizona-type law here, and there will be those trying to stop it.

The Supreme Court ruling would let Texas enact a law requiring local officers to check if they're suspicious about a person's immigration status while stopped for another possible violation.

A similar bill died in the last legislative session, but its sponsor — Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) — is thinking of bringing it back up again.

"If i want to go ahead and reintroduce that in its present form, or if I want to add or take anything from that for next session, we're looking at that closely now," she said.

Riddle's bill and the "sanctuary cities" bills that took hard lines on illegal immigration didn't pass. Some of the reasons were cost, legal questions, and the business lobby that lined up against them.

Opponents — like Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas) — promise a big push again if there's an effort to widen police power.

"There's no background, there's no history, there's no research showing there's a need for it," he said. "The only thing that I can tell is that people have a 'hate' kind of attitude; we don't need that kind of attitude in Texas."

The heated rhetoric on the issue in an election year may fade by next January when the legislature convenes, but interest groups on both side promise to keep the pressure on lawmakers.

"Not only was there economic disruption, there was social disruption, discriminatory actions, racial profiling and we think that that's going to continue," said Carlos Quintanilla of Accion America in a live face-off on News 8 Midday.

But Katrina Pierson, who founded the Garland Tea Party, wants more enforcement with an Arizona-type law in Texas.

"You cannot talk about the economy; you cannot talk about health care until you talk about the weight of the illegal immigration in our states," she said.

The wait to see if Texas becomes more aggressive on illegal immigration will stretch into next year.