Texas Rep: No Undocumented Workers! (Except Gardeners)

At least Republican lawmakers aren't trying to hide their own self-interests.

By Thoai Lu Mar 04, 2011

According to Yahoo News, the Texas state House has proposed an immigration bill that would make hiring an "unauthorized alien" a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, unless they are hired to do household chores.

The bill, HB 2012, has been introduced by tea party favorite, state Rep. Debbie Riddle, who has been a long-time supporter of Texan efforts to mimic an Arizona-style immigration law. 

Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, also a Republican, told CNN Tuesday why he supported the bill. "With things the way they are today, her bill will see a large segment of the Texas population in prison," he said. "When it comes to household employees or yard workers, it is extremely common for Texans to hire people who are likely undocumented workers."

However, according to legal ethics writer Jack Marshall the bill reinforces the "we don’t want you but somebody has to do those menial jobs" attitude.  He wrote on his blog, "Excepting household workers from anti-immigration laws renders the law impotent and self-contradictory, just like the current U.S. immigration policy, of which it is almost a perfect microcosm."

The Houston Chronicle reported this week that Republican Rep. Burt Solomons has introduced another anti-immigrant bill, HB 12. As Seth Wessler wrote earlier this week, Texas is just one of several states considering an Arizona-style SB 1070 copycat bill.

HB 12 has stirred up so much controversy that dozens of supporters and detractors packed a hearing room outside the Texas Capitol Wednesday night, eager to voice their views.  Under the pending bill, state and local police officers would be allowed to — but not required — to help enforce federal immigration laws.  Critics of the bill said "it would allow local police agencies, including those run by school districts and college campuses, to become de-facto immigration enforcement agents."

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, an estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrants are in Texas.  Although nationwide numbers between 2007 and 2009 have declined from 12 million to 11.1 million, the combined population in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana went up approximately 240,000, the center reported last month, reported Yahoo.

Riddle made headlines last year for a CNN interview in which she claimed unnamed FBI officials had told her that pregnant women from the Middle East and Mexico were giving birth to so-called "anchor babies" in the U.S. so that they could grow up overseas and later come back to terrorize the country.  She claimed that people  "south of the border" or "from middle eastern countries" are "breaking the back of taxpayers… taking down health care."

It’s no wonder that Marshall believes Riddle epitomizes what he called an "ethics dunce."  He said, "No one needs to dig any holes… in Debbie Riddle’s ethics, integrity or logic. There are plenty already."

* An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to this bill as HB 12, which is a separate — but equally disturbing — piece of anti-immigrant legislation that’s currently being considered by lawmakers in Texas.