Perry adds immigration issues to special session


Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, left to right, speak to members of the media discussing the agenda of the 30-day special session held at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, May 31, 2011. The special session will work on bills that were not completed during the 82nd Legislative Session such as education, health care and financing. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Rodolfo Gonzalez)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry added immigration legislation to the special session's agenda on Tuesday, including a measure that would remove local law enforcement agencies' ability to not prioritize immigration violation.

In a Tuesday afternoon statement, Perry also added measures that would require state authorities to check a person's immigration status before issuing a driver's license and also checking a person's immigration status when they are arrested.

"Texas owes it to the brave law enforcement officials, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and communities, to give them the discretion they need to adequately do their jobs," Perry said. "Abolishing sanctuary cities in Texas, using the federal Secure Communities program and ensuring that only individuals who are here legally can obtain a valid Texas driver's license sends a clear message that Texas will not turn a blind eye to those breaking our laws."

Proponents call places where police do not actively enforce federal immigration law "sanctuary cities," a moniker local officials reject.

The vast majority of police chiefs oppose the so-called sanctuary cities measure that they say would prevent them from setting their own law enforcement priorities. Those opposed also say the bill would dramatically increase their workload without any additional funding and create an environment of distrust when police investigate crimes involving minorities.

Perry named similar legislation an emergency item in the regular legislative session, but it failed to reach the full Senate for a vote.