THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Does a Texas version of Arizona's immigration law still stand a chance?
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Arizona blocked main provisions of the state's controversial new law from taking effect, handing the Obama administration an early victory in its fight against the statute. The law has provoked sometimes vicious debate since its adoption in Arizona and has led conservative legislators across the nation to begin pushing for similar legislation in their own states.
The judge's ruling is not final, only a preliminary injunction, but as The New York Times notes, "it seems likely to halt, at least temporarily, an expanding movement by states to combat illegal immigration by making it a state crime to be an immigrant without legal documents and by imposing new requirements on state and local police officers to enforce immigration law."
What then for state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, who, along with fellow House Republican Leo Berman, of Tyler, has vowed to push an Arizona-style bill in the next legislative session? She's not backing down. "I want to make it clear that I am not put-off by the threat of legal action against a bill here in Texas," Riddle said in a statement Wednesday. "If all attempts at the state level to protect our nation’s sovereignty are struck down by the courts, it will only serve to stoke the raging signal fire alerting Washington D.C. to the fact that there is finally no one left to blame but themselves for the lack of law and order along our country’s borders.”
Such a bill's chances of passage in heavily Latino Texas have long been in doubt, but even setbacks for the bill's proponents like Wednesday's court decision won't slow debate on the issue, which the Houston Chronicle recently noted is looking increasingly like it could stall the 2011 legislative session.
Democrats, meanwhile, praised the ruling and its potential to help stave off similar legislation throughout the U.S. "It will cause other states to pause and reflect on knee-jerk reactions," said Charlie Gonzalez, a U.S. representative from San Antonio who is heavily involved in immigration reform at the federal level. Others echoed Gonzalez, as the Tribune's Julian Aguilar reported.
- The curious case of Brian Birdwell isn't over quite yet. Reported Wednesday to have voted twice in the same election in two states, the newly elected Republican state senator from Granbury explained that the day's "inaccurate news reports" must have stemmed from a mix-up with his voting record and his brother's. But Birdwell, who says he voted in Virginia in 2006, has yet to address the residency requirement stating that members of the Texas Legislature must have lived in Texas for at least five years to serve.
- State Sen. Troy Fraser — pulled into controversy this week after The Dallas Morning News reported on Gov. Rick Perry's handling of a murky real estate deal — violated ethics with his own real estate handlings, the Tribune's Matt Stiles reports.
"I know we are very happy, but there is still fear." — An undocumented immigrant, on Wednesday's judicial decision blocking provisions of the Arizona immigration law
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