By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
Last week, two Texas representatives said they would file legislation similar to the controversial new Arizona law that requires law enforcement personnel to ask for documentation if they suspect a person is an illegal immigrant.
Rep. Debbie Riddle of Tomball said she would push for a new law in the January legislative session, and Rep. Leo Berman of Tyler said he plans to file similar legislation.
On April 23, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that directs police to demand documentation from people they "reasonably suspect" are unlawfully present in the country. Police have the power to detain those who cannot produce such documents when asked.
While some have lauded the new law as appropriate for a state with many immigrants, others have criticized the law for possibly opening the door to racial profiling and harassment of Hispanics.
Local legislators think a stricter approach to immigration is necessary. On Friday, Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, said he didn't know yet if he would support Texas legislation similar to the Arizona law because he hasn't read the text of the Arizona law. He
believes, however, that there are effective laws in place already that the federal government isn't enforcing.
"We must secure our borders, make sure our law enforcement has all the resources they need and put more pressure on D.C.," Sheffield said. "Why duplicate a law in place? Let's enforce the laws."
State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said he would support the bill if the Supreme Court rules the law is constitutional.
"If the Supreme Court finds it is a valid tool for controlling illegal immigration, I would be in favor of it," Aycock said. "I think we need to gain better control on illegal immigration. … It's unfortunate the federal government hasn't stepped up better than it has."
The court would have to determine that the law doesn't "trample anyone's individual rights," to get his support. The Arizona law and potential Texas bill will be challenged in court pretty quickly, he said.
Former Killeen mayor and local League of United Latin American Citizens president Raúl G. Villaronga said he was disappointed when area representatives said they might support an Arizona-style immigration law.
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcourts.