Rick Perry: No Arizona-style immigration law for Texas, thanks

Alternate headline: “Rick Perry awfully worried about the Latino vote in this year’s gubernatorial election.”

“I fully recognize and support a state’s right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas,” Perry said in a written statement.

“For example, some aspects of the law turn law enforcement officers into immigration officials by requiring them to determine immigration status during any lawful contact with a suspected alien, taking them away from their existing law enforcement duties, which are critical to keeping citizens safe.”…

Perry took heat during this year’s Republican primary for backing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, saying in a debate that the students are on a path to citizenship.

In fairness, he’s called for Congress to provide border security before considering amnesty, and his concerns about cops getting bogged down in immigration policing aren’t unfounded. WaPo’s got several Arizona officers on record saying they’re too busy to go after illegals or worried about getting sued — by both sides — depending upon on how strictly or not strictly they enforce the law. The thing is, I’m not sure even the cops out there know the ins-and-outs of the statute yet. For instance:

“We’re way too busy,” Charlton said of the law’s requirement that police officers question anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally. “We don’t have enough officers on the street to look for other stuff like that. If they’re not doing anything, they’re just being normal people. Why would I do that?”…

The day after the Arizona legislature approved the bill, the police headquarters was flooded with phone calls. A typical complaint, according to Villaseñor, was this: “Hey, there are some Mexicans standing on the corner? You need to check them out.”

The police chief considered the requests “ridiculous” because “a lot of people stand on street corners.” Villaseñor, a Tucson native who joined the police force in 1980 and became chief last year, said he understands the frustrations but objects to the law on several levels.

Those requests are indeed ridiculous. The good news? The law doesn’t ask cops to act on them. As was made clear by yesterday’s revisions, only those who have been detained on suspicion of a crime are subject to it. Which is to say, it’s not “anyone” who has to worry; it’s people who are doing things that would normally attract a cop’s attention in the first place. It’s astounding that misinformation about the statute has penetrated so deeply that even Arizona police aren’t straight on it yet, but then, as Ed noted this morning, drafting the law clearly in the first place would have gone a long way towards solving that problem.

Elsewhere, Major League Baseball’s players union has denounced the law and hinted about taking “additional steps” if it’s not repealed or modified, by which I assume they mean boycotting the All-Star Game this year or something along those lines. In semi-related news, I will continue not watching baseball until October. Exit question: What’s Rick Perry going to do when Arizona’s illegals take the hint and head east?

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