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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Perry Walks Fine Line on Immigration

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President Obama should be worried about Governor Rick Perry for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is his potential appeal to Latino voters. Perry probably has the most moderate record on immigration of the GOP candidates (though John Huntsman can be counted among the reasonable). Granted, Perry has been trying to sound tougher lately, but in his years as governor of a conservative state, he has avoided demagoguing on the issue and has pursued commonsense policies. His predecessor, George W. Bush, pursued a similar strategy and performed much better with Hispanic voters than most in his party.

But as the New Republic reports, Perry needs to figure out a way not to upset Tea Party activists over his record on immigration - or at least please them enough on other issues that they downplay this issue. If Perry wants my advice (ha!), I would tell him to closely study the polling data. He will see that while many of the hard right voters who go to the polls in the primaries harbor pretty tough immigration views, it is only a tiny minority of voters who make immigration one of their major issues. In other words, if they like you on everything else, you're going to get some latitude on immigration. Resist the temptation to run to the right on immigration. You don't need to do that to win the nomination and if you can avoid it, you'll gain rich rewards in the general election.

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  1. Another Voice's Avatar
    I would say that given Obama's record on Immigration the repuks may have a little room to make waves. However that balancing act is a delicate one, on the one hand The Repuk brand is damaged goods with the Hispanics, you do not rebuild a brand in one election cycle just ask California after prop 187. Second the tea baggers are holding up a gun to anyone friendly to Immigration specially in the primary that is a big risk for all the players. My sens is that the best strategy for the Repuks is to continue to remind Hispanics on how disappointing Obama has being on Immigration and how they are not better off with him or in fact they are worst off if you look at deportation. Take away any motivation for the Hispanics to go voter for the president is not hard to do in today's political climate. The president can not afford to lose the 10 million votes he got from the Hispanics last election. if you can not get the votes you may as well just torpedo any chance he has on getting those votes again....
  2. Jack's Avatar
    Possible questions from Steve King:

    Governor Perry, as reported in 2007 you support a "free flow of individuals between these two countries who want to work and want to be an asset to our country and to Mexico." Please elaborate.

    Governor Perry, in a 2010 debate you stated "E-Verify would not make a hill of beans' difference when it comes to what's happening in America today. You secure the border first, then you can talk about how to identify individuals in an immigration situation." Please explain what you mean by "secure the border" and then explain why you think verification such as E-Verify would make little difference if implemented first?

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