Less than two months into Rick Perry's presidential candidacy, a record on illegal immigration that served him well politically as a border-state governor is proving a tough sell with voters looking toward Iowa's Republican caucuses this winter.
If you remember, Gov. Perry had to run for re-election in Texas last year and for a while the polls against his opponent Bill White were pretty tight. He'd just come out of a bruising primary battle with former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and many prominent Texas Republicans were jumping ship and supporting White.
Perry also knew the kinds of things the 2010 census revealed. Like the fact that in 10 years the White population of Texas had gone from a majority 64% to a minority 45%. And that Hispanics in Texas now make up 38% of the population.
So what did he do during that race? He refused to crusade for a border fence, he signed a law allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities, and he opposed Arizona's draconian SB 1070 because it would "turn law-enforcement officers into immigration officials," and they have more important things to worry about. In other words, he did what he had to do to get re-elected in Texas. And now all of that has come back to haunt him in his presidential bid.
Is it any wonder then, that Texas just got challenged by DOJ for trying to gerrymander Congressional redistricting to restrict the voting power of Hispanics?
Senators and Governors in more and more states will be facing this demographic shift over the next few years while their racist tea partiers scream at them for protection against "the browning of America." Eventually more and more politicians like Perry will get caught in the squeeze.
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