Opinion

Commentary: Perry's immigration stance won't play well to Hispanics

Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry. AP Photo/LM Otero

Gov. Rick Perry has asked Texas to "blow the trumpet in Zion" for prayer.

But his evangelical clarion is already sounding a sour note.

In the same week when Perry called American governors to pray and fast with him at a stadium in Houston, he also told Texas lawmakers to get back to work unleashing police to check detainees' immigration status.

That might prompt some interesting conversation Sunday, when Preacher Rick takes his message to Los Angeles to speak at a Spanish-language anti-abortion revival named Unidos Por La Vida (United for Life).

A crowd of 16,000 is expected to pay $25 each to see Perry, actor Eduardo Verastegui and telenovelas star Veronica Castro in the old Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. It's a benefit for a pregnancy center Verastegui founded.

How many of those 16,000 want to worry whether Mom or Grandpa might get arrested or deported over some minor, nonviolent infraction on their next trip to Texas?

The revival is co-sponsored by a Catholic-owned Spanish radio station.

In Texas, Roman Catholic bishops including the Most Rev. Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth have joined Methodist and Southern Baptist leaders to oppose the so-called sanctuary city ban.

When I called the California Catholic Conference in Sacramento to ask its position on Perry's "emergency" effort to have state and local police enforce federal immigration laws, communications director Carol Hogan seemed surprised.

"You mean he's against the church on this?" she asked.

In Austin, Presbyterian church elder Bee Morehead is the executive director of Texas Impact, the interfaith group that published the religious leaders' letter.

The letter complained that such a law would "detract from safety" (by tying police up on federal matters) and that police might illegally delay or detain legal residents.

Morehead said her personal prayer for the governor is that his visit to California will help him "open his heart" to think about "the way we balance our commitment to public safety with our Christian commitment to show compassion."

Perry already published his statement: "Texas will not turn a blind eye to those breaking our laws."

He'd better be ready to explain in Spanish.

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