The latest Rasmussen poll of likely Republican Primary voters finds Texas Governor Rick Perry leading the GOP pack of presidential contenders. He is trailed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the winner of last Saturday’s Iowa Ames Straw Poll Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann.
As the GOP whittles down its field of presidential candidates, it is worth looking at where these politicians stand on immigration and asking whether it ultimately matters who wins the presidency in 2012 when it comes to advancing policies and laws beneficial to immigrants and their families.
Some on the right see Perry as having an “immigration problem.” After all, he did sign a law allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition ten years ago, long before that became a major immigration issue nationwide.
The conservative Washington Times also points to his questioning Arizona for passing the draconian SB 1070, which resulted in a cascade of copycat anti-immigrant laws in other states, his criticism of the E-Verify program, and his purported support for open borders as evidence of Perry’s liberal immigration bona fides.
All this might give some the impression that the Texas governor would be good news for immigrants and their advocates. But as Feet in 2 Worlds clarified, Perry’s “open borders” policy is rather nuanced. It would involve a biometric identification system that tracks immigrants to make sure they paid their taxes and obeyed the law. All this as a requirement for two year work visas for migrant laborers. Perry also tried, but failed, to pass a bill prohibiting sanctuary cities in his state.
Bottom line, it might not be enough for extreme hard-liners, but Perry’s immigration stance is one of enforcement. He calls for thousands of “boots on the ground” and predator drones in the air along the border with Mexico.
This story was produced by Feet in Two Worlds, a project at Milano The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.