Why Debbie Riddle’s Arizona Copycat Law Stands A Chance In Texas

Texas state Rep. Debbie Riddle (R) has been saying for some time now that she wants to introduce an Arizona-style immigration law in her state. Following what Riddle interprets as an electoral “mandate for the toughest possible crackdown on illegal immigration,” it came as little surprise when she decided to literally camp out on folding chairs outside the floor of the Texas House of Representatives to be the first in line on Monday morning to file her bills. Riddle — the lawmaker who called the children of undocumented immigrants “little terrorists” — filed House Bill 16, which would require voters to present photo identification at the polls and House Bill 17, which is similar to Arizona’s law.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) — who was easily reelected last week — has consistently said that he does not support enacting an Arizona-style immigration law in Texas. “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 statement shortly after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed off on SB-1070.

Others have suggested that since the Latino electorate in Texas is much larger and more empowered than its counterpart in Arizona, Texas lawmakers won’t be emboldened to pursue legislation that such a large segment of voters oppose.

However, the possibility of Texas enacting an immigration law like Arizona’s is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.

Texas Latinos may oppose an Arizona-style law, but 57 percent of Texans support it.

For their part, Texas Republicans seem united in support of Riddle’s initiative. This past June, over 8,000 Republican delegates and alternates from Texas approved a GOP blueprint that prioritizes enacting Arizona-like immigration laws in their state. It doesn’t help that Texas Republicans appear to be just one seat short of a supermajority which would allow them to override vetoes and make constitutional amendments without input from the Democrats. That means just one conservative Democrat could help make Riddle’s bill law. (And those kinds of Democrats definitely exist.)


With all that said, passing an Arizona-style immigration law isn’t a very smart long-term strategy and chances are Rick Perry isn’t the only Republican in Texas who recognizes that.