Karen Brooks, Reuters, June 29, 2011
A so-called “sanctuary cities” bill that would have allowed a crackdown on cities providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants died when the Texas legislature adjourned for another two years without passing it.
What’s more, the sanctuary cities bill was far less restrictive than the measure passed in Arizona, and it was championed by Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry, who is considering running for president.
Political analysts expected it to sail through the Republican-dominated legislature.
While Republican party infighting and rivalry between the two chambers of the legislature were factors in its demise, shocked conservatives and Tea Party supporters blamed so-called “Country Club” Republicans with close ties to business.
In that election [of 2010], Texas voters, much like the rest of the country, swept Republicans into office in historic numbers. For the first time in well over a century, Republicans enjoy a supermajority in the Texas House and just one seat shy of that in the Senate. Among those swept into office in Texas were several Hispanic Republicans.
Two powerful Texas businessmen joined the lobbying against the bill, legislative sources told Reuters.
Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and grocery chain magnate Charles E. Butt hired one of Austin’s most powerful lobbyists to oppose the legislation.
Texas is not the only state where powerful business interests have expressed reservations. After Georgia’s Republican-led legislature passed a tough new anti-immigration law, farm groups expressed concern that the measure would staunch the flow of workers to help with harvesting crops. And in Utah, business interests helped to moderate proposals there. The package passed by the Utah legislature included a guest worker program as well as restrictions on immigration.