(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) — It was an awkward afternoon for Gov. Rick Perry Thursday as his jokes fell ﬂat and his pauses for applause were met with silence at the NALEO conference in San Antonio. Perry welcomed the organization, the largest gathering of Latino elected ofﬁcials, to San Antonio for their annual conference. Too bad for Perry that his record hasn’t been as welcoming of the millions of Hispanics in Texas.
What did the governor expect?
The anti-Hispanic agenda, embodied in “sanctuary cities” bills SB9 and HB9, is still being pushed by Gov. Perry and his Republican cohorts in Austin. The House committee on State Affairs is scheduled to meet Monday to act on these pending bills. But Perry neglected to mention this legislation, in fact, he carefully avoided the word “immigration” all together.
These bills and their predecessors illustrate Perry’s dismal record on issues that matter to Hispanics. In a bold display of political pandering, Perry declared the ban on mythical “sanctuary cities” an emergency in the regular session. When the bill rightfully died, he brought it back to life in the special session, leaving many inside and outside of the Capitol to feel like tools of Perry’s ambition.
The facts don’t lie.
These bills are an attack on Hispanics and all of the diverse immigrant communities across Texas. Even Republicans admit privately that “sanctuary cities” do not exist and that the bills are merely a wink and nod to vocal, fringe activists in his base. But Perry cannot hide from the fact that his push for anti-immigrant bills has galvanized anti-Hispanic groups in Texas. Texas Tea Party activist Rebecca Forest of the extremist anti-immigrant group, IRCOT, was caught on video giving a speech to Tea Partiers in Austin where she said the problem with Texas was that too many Hispanics were in ofﬁce. Perry’s irresponsible game-playing with families and communities has created the environment where such comments are welcomed and cheered by extremist anti-immigrant groups.
And yesterday at NALEO, the governor got a chilly reminder of what happens when you play politics with immigrant and Hispanic communities. Because like all Texans, the convention delegates know the truth about Perry’s anti-Hispanic agenda. Before long, voters around the country will know, too.