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Commentary: Immigration is Perry's favorite election year emergency

Right on schedule, Gov. Perry lashed out last week at sanctuary cities.

He always talks about immigration before elections. Just not afterward.

Perry has been governor of Texas since last century. As Democratic opponent Bill White has said, Perry has had years to do something about immigration.

Now, a month before the election, he has suddenly decided that allowing law enforcement officers to ask people about their immigration status is an emergency and must be fixed the minute the Legislature meets in January.

Why wasn't it an emergency in 2007 or 2009?

Perry criticized so-called sanctuary-city policies back then, too. But he wasn't running against a former mayor of Houston.

Some definitions: Sanctuary city is a 1980s term for cities that refuse to help immigration enforcement. We're talking Cambridge, Mass., or Berkeley, Calif.

As far as I know, Texas has never had a formal sanctuary city.

But several police agencies -- including state troopers and police in Fort Worth, Arlington and White's hometown of Houston -- have or had a "don't ask, don't tell" rule.

Their policy is that officers don't investigate immigration status. (That's a federal civil matter.)

Lately, Tarrant County and all of Texas have joined Secure Communities, a high-tech crackdown that rounds up deportable criminal immigrants and drug offenders.

So, all cities' officers now help enforce immigration law. Yet Perry still wants troopers and police freed to ask about immigration status.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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