As the Texas Legislature’s special session drew to a close in late June, Dallas-area tea party leader Katrina Pierson stood inside the nearly empty House chambers and delivered a message to a network of tea party activists around the state: with just a few days left to tighten Texas’ immigration laws, Republicans were slacking off.
In the year Texas lawmakers passed the controversial voter photo ID law, and formalized requirements that drivers show proof of citizenship when applying for a license, a coalition of tea party groups issued an open letter to Gov. Rick Perry, urging him to bring the Legislature back in session yet again, this time just to tackle immigration.
“Although we do not necessarily hold you completely responsible for the inexcusable actions of the House and Senate members during the regular and special sessions, the ball is now squarely in your court,” the letter read.
Immigration — specifically his support for Texas’ extending in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants who’ve graduated from Texas high schools — was what got Perry booed at CNN’s Tea Party debate in Florida last week. It’s also one of the few places where he’d see eye to eye with a more moderate crowd of voters.
Taking advantage of the extra attention on Perry lately, that coalition of tea party groups has taken up its cause asking Perry to call another session of the Texas Legislature. Specifically, the groups want a new session aimed at a banning “sanctuary cities” — municipalities where local police are aren’t encouraged to check someone’s citizenship status. (Opponents who helped defeat the bill include not only minority rights activists, but police who say checking federal immigration status just isn’t part of their job.)
This morning at the State Capitol, Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee Chair JoAnn Fleming will headline a press conference announcing 3,000 signatures onto that open letter, urging Perry to reconvene the Legislature to tackle one last piece of “emergency” legislation, as he’d declared it earlier this year.
According to the group’s announcement today, “over 3,000 local activists have signed on to the letter, including representatives of over 100 local tea party, 9-12 and related grassroots groups.”
In a months-old video posted along with the groups’ announcement, Fleming recalls her disappointment with GOP lawmakers’ failure to push through the sanctuary cities ban:
“The games that are being played in both the House and the Senate are games that we didn’t vote for,” Fleming said. “The failure to address the issue of the illegal immigration of our state, the failure rests solely on the shoulders of Republican leadership in the House and the Senate.”