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The anti-immigrant hysteria has officially begun

Didn’t take long.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle camped out and endured “creepy” noises inside the cold, empty Capitol to be first in line Monday morning to file legislation targeting illegal immigration and ballot security.

The Tomball Republican said she remained outside the House chamber for two days because of the importance of getting priority bill numbers assigned to the two hot-button issues.

House Bill 16 would require voters to present photo identification or two forms of non-photo identification before they are allowed to cast ballots.

House Bill 17 is similar to Arizona’s controversial immigration law. It would allow law enforcement officers to charge an immigrant who lacks proper documentation and already is detained on another charge with criminal trespass – a Class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and maximum jail time of six months.

Both issues are part of the Republican Party of Texas platform but have failed to pass in recent legislative sessions.

However, with election results transforming what had been a narrow, 76-74 Republican advantage in the state House to a whopping 99-51 margin, Riddle expects favorable treatment for both bills.

“We better. Otherwise, the citizens of Texas are going to be pretty outraged – and you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Riddle said Monday.

Democratic leaders said Riddle’s immigration bill would result in the same litigation that has tied up the Arizona law and drained millions of dollars from the state’s coffers.

I can’t think of a better way to encapsulate the blinding, irrational fear that motivates nutjobs like Riddle than the fact that she was actually frightened by things going bump in the night as she camped out like a teenager hoping to score Justin Bieber tickets. I don’t even know what else to say about that. Stace has a complete listing of Riddle’s mania, plus a statement by Rep. Armando Walle that decries her hatefulness. There’s going to be a lot more opportunities for that, I’m afraid.

There are three groups whose responses we need to watch. One of course is Democrats, who cannot stop any of this madness – you can be sure that the Senate’s two-thirds rule will not be allowed to be an obstacle – but who can send a message about what they truly stand for to the constituencies that need to hear it by their actions. There’s no reason, and no excuse, for wavering. Take whatever actions you can to make the inevitable somewhat less distasteful, and fight like hell every step of the way.

Another group to watch will be business interests, who continue to claim that they don’t support these measures.

In an illustration of the coming schism between pro-business Republicans and social conservatives in the party, the state’s largest business lobby is opposing all statewide immigration proposals, saying that attempting to solve the problem of illegal immigration at the state level is ineffective. “The bottom line is, Congress needs to act and pass comprehensive immigration reform. We’re sympathetic to the fact that Congress hasn’t acted. We’re frustrated, too,” says Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. Hammond maintains the E-Verify computer system is too unreliable to put to use in Texas.

I’ll say again, until such time as Hammond and his cronies take direct action to oppose the lawmakers who are the driving forces behind this madness, their so-called “opposition” is meaningless fluff. Call them out by name, lobby them directly, recruit and/or raise money for primary opponents – there are many things they can do. Hell, just not giving money to them would be a step in the right direction. Put your money where your mouth is, Bill, or sit down, shut up and take it like the wimp you’ve been so far on this. If not, don’t be surprised when something like this happens.

The other group to watch will be those newly elected Latino Republicans in the Lege.

During the 81st Legislature, MALC put forth a united front in opposition to one of the session’s most divisive issues: voter ID. Though some members were more vocal than others, the caucus as a whole participated in the “chubbing” that successfully killed the bill on the House floor.

Assuming that all Hispanics will lock arms this session would be a mistake, [Rep.-elect Larry] Gonzales says.

“It does Latinos a huge disservice to say we all think alike,” he says.

Asked about whether he would vote for an Arizona-style immigration law in Texas, Gonzales said it would be “irresponsible” for him to deal with a hypothetical. But, he says, he supports the Arizona Legislature’s interpretation of what it believes is best for the state.

“I totally respect Arizona’s right as a sovereign state to do what it feels it needs to do,” he says.

[Rep. Trey] Martinez Fischer is optimistic that differences can bridged.

“Yes, they are Republican. Yes, their ideology is different. But we are all Latinos,” he says. “I don’t see why an issue that affects me one way should be 180 degrees opposite somewhere else.”

I’m afraid I don’t share Rep. Martinez Fischer’s optimism. But we’re sure gonna find out soon enough.

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4 Comments

  1. Kenneth D. Franks says:

    Every time Debbie talks about the sanctity of the ballot and voting someone should post the video of state representatives voting for each other while she is talking about it on television. The voter I.D bill is not a huge issue if it is phased in and the elderly and others don’t have to go get new certified birth certificates and new identification at their own expense which is expensive. Otherwise it could be considered a poll tax by another name. With the budget short fall I don’t expect the state will pay for this and if it comes into effect before the next election it is simply a voter suppression strategy.
    Immigration is a federal issue and are we going to be willing to spend what it takes to lock up illegal immigrants for six months at state expense? I imagine the private prison industry will love this since they stand to profit from it. Isn’t deportation and the prospect of being locked up the next time they are caught enough. It would be interesting to know the amount of contributions from the private prison industry the jail time proponents received.

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  3. Cb says:

    Some of the comments by Hispanics in the article were spot on. Many Hispanic Americans have little or no interest in the illegal immigration issue. Just like in anything else the haves can be indifferent to the have nots. Dems need to tread carefully on this issue.

  4. […] threatening to do it serious damage with this proposal, that I have for the business interests that claim to be concerned about anti-immigrant legislation: Are you going to actively fight this, up to and including putting […]

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