They lay out their argument in a very common-sense manner and are basically making the point that Republicans can't attract Latinos to their party with perceived anti-Latino legislation. The Texas Tribune has a good article about it today.
Interestingly, Dee Margo is now on the record as being against the bill. That is, against the bill NOW. He was originally supportive of a much worse bill earlier in the session.
There's a good piece in the El Paso Times written by Zahira Torres in which Dee Margo says a couple of very interesting things.
First, Dee Margo defends previously voting in favor of the bill that would cost El Paso millions of dollars by saying, "I thought it was a fairly innocuous bill...I didn't think there was a whole lot to it. I thought it was more form than substance, and not one member of the city or county ever called me about it at all."
First of all, don't think...know.
Second of all, and more importantly, is the last comment.
I don't believe for a minute that not one member of the city or county called him about the bill. In fact, one El Paso source in Austin said, "...(the legislature) spent two days on the damn bill in regular session. Over and over and over we said that there were going to be lawsuits. They said it on the mic and in committee reports, he had access to the same info the whole delegation did...he wants to be spoon fed????"
Torres' piece also said Margo was working with the Attorney General's Office to exclude El Paso from the bill. So, if Margo didn't know it would have negative ramifications for El Paso, why would he be working for an exclusion for El Paso? This looks like he supports the spirit of the bill, but knows he will have to answer for El Paso losing a lot of money and doesn't have the political fortitude to make a stand so he wanted to try to find a way to have his cake and eat it too.
But back to giving credit where credit is due, here is the text of the letter that the Republican boosters are circulating in opposition to the bill. In stark contrast to Representative Dee Margo, who is now Latino, they are making a values argument against the bill. They oppose it because its not consistent with the values, as opposed to Margo who is opposing the bill because of expediency.
The State Affairs Committee has rescheduled its Friday morning meeting to Monday morning. After talking to most of the Republican committee members, it seems to me the sole purpose of this bill is political. I believe most of the Republicans on the committee feel they have to enact something, but they don’t want to do any real harm.
The current version of HB 9 is better than SB 9 in that it only deals with the one single issue; a strong penalty against any governmental entity that restricts the authority of their employees to make inquiries regarding an individual’s immigration status. It now includes a non-discriminatory provision, which is broad enough that in theory it would not be randomly applied solely because a person is Hispanic. However as a practical matter, we all know that it will be Hispanics, including Hispanic American Citizens, that will be asked to prove their immigration status as opposed to white or black persons.
The bill itself can only serve political purposes, allowing Republicans to claim that they have done something and giving Governor Perry a "perceived" victory. But it’s essentially unenforceable. It has been sold as having something to do with helping law enforcement detain criminal aliens or terrorists, which is factually incorrect.
Any law enforcement agent can make an inquiry based on probable cause to determine whether or not someone is committing a crime or is engaged in terrorist activities. This bill allows a law enforcement officer to make inquiries solely for immigration purposes.
Consider this. If an officer determines he has reason to believe that someone is out of status, a difficult legal determination since this is a federal offense and in many cases it is not even a criminal offense, the officer has no authority to arrest that individual and can only report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If the individual is going to be arrested, this entire law is irrelevant because we already use 287G and Secure Communities. So what this means is, we will have officers making inquiries of those individuals they cannot otherwise arrest, and then advising ICE and detaining such individuals until ICE picks them up.
As a practical matter, ICE does not have the resources. ICE, in fact, has their own enforcement priority which is to focus their limited resources on the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, suspected terrorists and individuals with outstanding deportation orders. Therefore, it is unlikely that ICE would even allow one of its agents to respond to a call simply to determine if someone is out of status. Even if they were to do so, in the interim that police officer would be out of commission and there would be a serious issue as to whether or not the officer had made a false arrest by holding someone that is not subject to any criminal charge. Just imagine the number of lawsuits!
The Governor's political advisers evidently believe this bill will help his image nationally. The fact is, passage of this bill will convince more Hispanic voters that Republicans really do want to deport their mothers! What a terrible message for Texas!
The media headlines will read "Texas follows Arizona!" How ironic it is that Texas Republicans would vote for a bill that will make it more difficult to recruit Hispanics to their party!
Republican members of this legislature have rightfully refused to even consider scores of bills based on the fact that they would generate unfunded mandates.
No one denies this bill will increase the number of citizen children whose parents are deported. This bill will increase the cost of housing nonviolent inmates. This bill will increase the cost of officer training. This bill will increase required officer manpower.
So what will you do? Will you vote for a bill that creates unfunded mandates because of political pressure? Or will you do what is best for Texas and vote NO? Even if you think the majority of your constituents favor this bill, you should make your decision based on facts and reality. That is why you were elected. Otherwise, we could simply do a poll on every issue. You could be at home running your business and enjoying your family. Most of your constituents have not studied the issues, or heard the testimony!
Please allow me to close with one point we have learned so well over the four years of the immigration debate. Illegal immigration is an emotionally charged debate. However one thing is clear, on this issue, the haters are the minority. They are not the voting majority!
It is our prayer you will vote NO.
God bless you for listening, and may God continue to bless Texas!
Norman E. Adams, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy
Steven Hotze, MD, Conservative Republicans of Texas