Can Senate Dems Block Sanctuary City Bill?

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As I wrote in my post on Friday, it ain’t over until it’s over with the omnibus homeland security bill, SB 9, and HB 12, the sanctuary cities bill that is now eligible to be brought up in the Senate.

SB 9 is looking dead in the House. It didn’t get kicked out of House calendars by Sunday, a crucial deadline. Still, this is the final week of session when sneak amendments and parliamentary maneuvers are the norm so it can’t be ruled out entirely

HB 12 still has legs and is on the Senate intent calendar today. It would take some outrageous parliamentary maneuvering to bring it up, however. There are two blocker bills, one by Sen. Kirk Watson and one by Sen. Carlos Uresti — both Democrats. To get around them, Republicans would need a 2/3s vote to bring up HB 12. That means Republicans would need two Democrats to vote with them.

But the 12 Democratic senators are holding firm. This morning they sent out a letter to their Republican colleagues entreating them to take the high road and not bring up the sanctuary city bill:

“We are writing to you today to ask you to fully consider the impact of proposed legislation that aims to target certain demographics of the Texas population.  We have concerns about racially profiling our citizens under the guise of cracking down on so-called ‘sanctuary cities.’ There is a tremendous risk that such legislation would inadvertently target legal citizens of Texas, solely because they fall within a certain ethnic demographic. As we are all well aware, racial profiling is illegal in Texas.

“We cannot afford this type of divisive legislation and  the  resulting long-term unsustainable costs  to our state and our communities. It is time that we stand together for the benefit of our state.”

But do the Republicans care?

The question floating out there now is how bad does Gov. Perry need sanctuary cities to pass? Does he need it for a chapter in his next book “Still Fed Up” or for his run on the national ticket with grizzly mom Sarah Palin? Will political consultant Dave Carney tell his client Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst he’s got to push sanctuary cities if he ever hopes to grab that brass ring of a U.S. Senate seat? Can they pull some wild parlimentary maneuver and ram it through the Senate? Or maybe the leadership lets HB 12 die and blames it all on the “Demoncrats.”

We’ll know soon enough.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. She has a master’s in public health from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.