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The Brief: April 26, 2010

The Arizona immigration bill and Texas, earmarks for Kay and the dropout debacle.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The domino effect. The ink from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature is still drying on what some critics cite as the most egregious immigration bill in history. That’s not stopping Texans from weighing in on the battle and asking whether or not the Lone Star State should — or if it even could — consider similar legislation.

The bill gives local peace officers the authority to detain a person if they have a reasonable doubt he or she is in the country illegally, makes being undocumented in the state a crime and makes it illegal to knowingly hire an undocumented day laborer. The Arizona legislature gave it the green light less than a month after neighboring New Mexico sent National Guard troops to its border with Mexico.

The memory of the Texas House’s “chub fest” in 2009 over another controversial — and some say minority-targeted — bill, voter ID, is still fresh in the minds of lawmakers.  That might be why some pundits predict Texas would steer clear of a similar law, for now.

In its blog, the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy posits that, due to federal inaction, similar legislation could be introduced here when lawmakers trek back to Austin in January. But, says the think tank, that’s as far as it might go.

“The prospects that this legislation will actually be passed, let alone debated on the floor, are remote. The bill would be unanimously opposed by Democrats, and would not enjoy the support of both moderate and pragmatic Republican legislators in both the House and Senate,” wrote Mark P. Jones, a Baker Institute Rice scholar and professor and chair of the Department of political science, whose opinion was published via the Houston Chronicle.

Still, he adds, the effects of the Arizona bill are sure to reverberate in Texas. If the new law is enforced, expect immigrants bound for other border states changing course and heading to Texas, he writes, while “some of the almost half a million undocumented immigrants in Arizona can now be expected to move to another state, with Texas one of the principal recipients.”

In El Paso, the Mexican consul’s office has already issued a statement criticizing the law, reports the El Paso Times. In it, officials say they support any sovereign country’s right to author and enact policy, but it felt compelled to address an issue it fears could hinder the human and civil rights of thousands of its countrymen.

“Criminalization is not the way to resolve the phenomenon of undocumented immigration,” the statement reads. “The Mexican government will use its resources to defend the rights and dignity of Mexicans in Arizona." 

In Texas, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, was quoted in the Burnt Orange Report as arguing that: “It's unfortunate that the Republican party continues to use this community as scapegoats to rally parts of their base. This is bad public policy that no state should mirror.”

CULLED:

  • With her failed bid for Texas governor well in her rearview mirror, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is apparently comfortable procuring federal dollars for homegrown projects. The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas’ senior U.S. senator has injected more funding requests into the 2010 fiscal year budget than any of her Republican colleagues. Hutchison is third on the list of senators as her funding requests total more than $1.2 billion.
  • The school dropout war between Gov. Rick Perry and opponent Bill White is turning into one of the most significant campaign issues leading up to the November general election. A new Dallas Morning News report revisits White’s assertion that Perry is tweaking numbers to try and lessen the magnitude of one of the state’s shiniest black eyes.    
  • A major leader for the Juárez drug cartel that operated across the border from El Paso will be extradited and prosecuted in West Texas, according to the El Paso Times. Mexican officials arrested Juan Jose Quintero Payan, who is alleged to have worked for the cartel since the 1970s, Nov. 30.

With the stroke of her pen, Governor Brewer has mandated racial profiling.” State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, speaking to the Burnt Orange Report, about the Arizona immigration bill.

MUST READ:

For the Lucios, Private Prison Consulting is a Family AffairTexas Observer

The Big StallThe Texas Tribune

Memoir by George W. Bush to Be Published in NovemberThe Guardian

Juárez nears 5,000 killingsEl Paso Times

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