By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
And the wiener is: Let's send a big horseshoe-shaped wreath of flowers to state Representative Debbie Riddle, winner of the demagogue sweepstakes to be the first Texas legislator to propose introducing a Texas version of Arizona's recently enacted SB 1070, also known as the Roust the Brown People Act.
Buzz tried to congratulate the Houston Republican personally, but her office voicemail box was full, crammed no doubt with hearty kudos—or maybe Spanish cusswords. The Arizona law allows state and local law enforcement officers to detain anyone not carrying proof of legal residency if a cop has reasonable suspicion that the paperless soul is in this country illegally. (What constitutes reasonable suspicion? Well, it won't be blond hair and blues eyes, we bet.)
Riddle offered a similar measure last go-round, and it was DOA. So how are things looking for the plucky nativist in the next Legislature?
Well, Governor Rick Perry, of all people, spoke out against mimicking Arizona, saying it "would not be the right direction for Texas."
Even without Perry—that lefty—Riddle's bill is a long shot. State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, points out that Riddle's efforts went nowhere when conservative Tom Craddick was speaker of the Texas House, so her new one is even less likely to pass muster under current Speaker Joe Straus. MALC has 44 members, he points out, more votes than Riddle's bill is likely to secure. "I'll wager we can pass a bill to move Debbie Riddle to Arizona" before she can pass her bill, he says.
State Representative Wayne Christian, president of the Texas Conservative Coalition, says it will be difficult to pass any serious state-level immigration laws as long as the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans in the House remains what it is. "It'll be up to what the election [result] is in November," he says.
Still, Riddle has her supporters, like Tyler state Representative Leo Berman, himself father of several immigration bills. He, too, calls for a Texas 1070, he told us via e-mail. Not to be outdone by Riddle, he included this line in his e-mail: "Additionally, I am having a bill drafted...requiring candidates for vice president and president to document their eligibility with the Texas Secretary of State (as a natural born citizen of the USA), before being allowed on the ballot in the state of Texas."
So, take that, Debbie. Leo will see your SB 1070 and raise you one birther bill. Now, where's the brave conservative ready to step up with a secession bill? —Patrick Williams