Gov. Rick Perry’s Record on Immigration – Can He Appeal to Latino Voters & the Tea Party?


Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Even before Rick Perry announced he was running for president on Saturday his critics were chiming in—this Texas governor may call himself a conservative, but he doesn’t have the right background on immigration to merit that title.

Former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, wrote an opinion piece in Politico arguing that Perry supports “completely open borders.” He skewered Perry for pushing through a law allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Texas colleges, opposing a border fence, expressing concerns about Arizona’s SB 1070 law and opposing the use of E-verify to check the status of all state workers.

Tancredo exaggerated a little bit—Perry did not really support “completely open borders.” He stated in 2007 that under a biometric identification system that would track individuals to ensure they paid taxes and obeyed U.S. laws, he would advocate 24-month visas for workers and support the “free flow of individuals between these two countries who want to work and want to be an asset to our country and to Mexico.” Notably, Perry made those remarks while in Mexico City to strengthen trade ties between Texas and Mexico, something which has contributed to Texas’ economic boom in the last decade.

Tancredo, the former chairman of the bipartisan Immigration Reform Caucus, is an immigration enforcement hawk, and now serves as chairman of Team America PAC, which exists solely,  “for one and only one reason: to support the election to Congress of candidates who share our commitment to supporting full border security, and opposing all amnesty measures for illegal aliens (whether they call it amnesty or not).”

Despite not being as extreme as Tancredo, Perry is by no means an immigration-enforcement dove. He may have called the idea of a border fence “idiocy,” but he advocates “boots on the ground” along the border with Mexico. He unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill prohibiting “sanctuary cities” in Texas.

Even so, Perry may have to toss a coin between wooing Latino voters or members of the Tea Party.

Texas has the nation’s second largest Hispanic population, accounting for 38 percent of state residents. As Perry campaigns for the Republican nomination, he’ll have to make a choice: tell the nation he’d like to expand his Texas-style immigration policies to the 49 other states, or ditch his previous words and appeal for the votes of immigration hard-liners.  Suzanne Guggenheim, a Texas-based member of the Tea Party Patriots National Leadership Council, told the Associated Press, “There is some disappointment” with Perry’s leadership on immigration.

But Marisa Treviño, editor and publisher of Texas-based LatinaLista, wrote that if Perry sticks to his guns, he may be the sole Republican candidate who stands a chance of capturing the votes of Hispanic U.S. citizens—21.3 million of whom were eligible to vote in 2010.

If he remains the only GOP candidate who doesn’t vilify undocumented immigrants or distorts the facts of illegal immigration, he may just win himself a sizeable portion of the Latino electorate who want to identify themselves as conservatives but, at this point, don’t feel welcomed.



  1. Why does the media In this country always make every election about “LATINOS” ? Obama was elected because WHITE MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS voted for him In mass. Please stop talking about the “latino vote” like It is the only one that matters. This Is AMERICA not mexico,and BTW If EVERY LATINO legal or Illegal votes for Obama In 2012 he will still lose,because WHITE MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN CITIZENS will not vote for him again !! You can take It to the bank !!


    The more I find out about Gov. perry’s love for illegal aliens, the more I’m beginning to realize that we cannot elect another person, that would seat in the white house concern for the well being of people that aren’t even legal immigrants, let alone American Citizens.  We’ve had enough of that!  At first glance I did like Gov. Perry but at this point, I wouldn’t vote for him.  I’m even beginning to think that he is a Mexican American…is he?   

    I wouldn’t mind voting for a Mexican american, as long as that person would think first and foremost as an American, the same as the Gov. for New Mexico, but Gov. Perry clearly doesn’t share that passion, since he places his love for Mexico, before his love for America. 

  3. Pingback: Perry’s immigration record – Washington Post (blog) | Political News Wire

  4. Rene

    Do you have something against Latinos? I’m Cuban -Mexiacn American.  “Latino” is more than just Mexican-Americans. There’s Cuban, Spanish, Puerto Ricans, People from Honduras. I was born in the US.  My parents were born in the US.  My grandfather fought in WW II.  What makes you  more American than me?  You’re ignorant..

  5. I’m a veteran Rene,are you ? Have you fought for this country? Did I say that I was “more american” than you ? You are the one calling people names that you know nothing about..People like you are the reason that American Citizens like me are fed up this whole “latino this,latino that stuff” People are tired of the media promoting race based politics,and we are tired of people that are Illegally In OUR country demanding “their rights” Freedom Is not FREE !!!!

  6. Illegal aliens complain about fingerprint sharing . 
    LOS ANGELES- Illegal aliens want to stop a federal government task force assigned to review an information-sharing effort that gives immigration authorities access to the fingerprints of arrestees.

    More than 200 people, many wearing signs reading “Terminate Secure Communities” and carrying flags from countries including Mexico and Brazil, packed a conference room in Los Angeles Monday night to recount their experiences with a program they say is making illegals reluctant to report crime to police out of fear of getting deported.”Every day I live the nightmare of this program,” said Blanca Perez, 38, who said she was arrested in February for street vending without a permit. “Now I am facing deportation for the simple act of selling ice cream in the street.” Perez is in the country illegally.  
    Illegal alien advocates are planning to hold protests Tuesday against Secure Communities in cities across the country.  This Is the kind of crap that we are sick of ….   Like I said Rene, “Freedom Is Not Free”

  7. Pingback: Commentary: Hispanic voters will be GOP’s biggest problem in 2012 – Kansas City Star | Conservatives for America

  8. Pingback: Podcast: What Do Latinos Think of Rick Perry? | Feet in 2 Worlds · Immigration news · Immigration reform · Immigrant communities

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *