Immigration

TX immigration bill sanitizes issue for homeowners with exemptions for hiring undocumented domestic workers

TX immigration bill sanitizes issue for homeowners with exemptions for hiring undocumented domestic workers

LatinaLista -- It's become legislatively chic these days to include a number of bills in statehouse debates dealing with illegal immigration. It doesn't matter which state it is or how far from the U.S.-Mexico border, every state feels compelled to pass something enforcing their own version of federal immigration law.

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Usually, the laws are zero tolerant approaches to immigration enforcement. In Texas, where the state demographer, Steve Murdock, recently said, "It's basically over for Anglos" in the Lone Star State with projections showing that by 2040, only 20 percent of the state's public school enrollment will be Anglo, the state legislature recently introduced immigration bills that had a slight twist on them not found in other states' bills.

Republican State Rep. Debbie Riddle -- the same one who claimed in August 2010 that "former FBI agents" were informing her office that wealthy tourists were coming to the United States just to breed "little terrorists -- has introduced House Bill 2012. HB2012 would create tough state punishments for those who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" hire an undocumented immigrant -- with one exception.

The bill would exempt anyone who hires a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker.

In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Riddle's chief of staff, Jon English, explained that the exception was to avoid "stifling the economic engine" in Texas.

"It is an admittedly clumsy first attempt to say, 'We are really focusing on the big businesses,' " English said. Texans shouldn't be punished for hiring lawn care companies who hire unauthorized immigrants, he said.

On the one hand, this bill makes a lot of sense in a state like Texas where the state demographer estimates about six percent of the state's population is undocumented.

No one asks if the painter, roofer, landscaper, maid, nanny, etc. have their papers. Because in all honesty, no one cares. What is cared about is can they do the job and in these economic times, getting the most value (translated cheap) for what you pay.

Yet, exempting regular homeowners sanitizes the problem and creates an uncomfortable situation that seems to say as long as undocumented workers are servants, they can work in Texas without fear of home raids -- and their employers can keep on doing it.

While many people would probably sign on to this bill -- because who wants to cart 92-year-old Mrs. Jones off to jail for employing an undocumented lawnmower -- it's a bad idea.

This bill would only perpetuate the problem of undocumented workers living in the shadows of our society and not give legislators any incentive to sincerely and fairly tackle immigration reform policies that would welcome these hard workers as equal members of our communities.

This bill would also prevent the so-called collective of American people, whom the GOP always invokes, from feeling the true effects of not having undocumented immigrant labor at their beck and call. It will hurt the pocketbook and the sooner the average citizen feels that pain the sooner the immigration debate reaches Main Street USA -- and hopefully the halls of Congress.

The GOP and other conservatives always say that the American people want something done about undocumented immigrants. Yet, this bill hypocritically and selfishly tailors the current situation to the needs and benefits of those "elite" Americans we are to believe are screaming for action.

HB2012 may seem like a good idea on the surface. However, as long as it attempts to shield the American public from the true impact current immigration policies are having on the 12 million people who are counting the days until they can fully fulfill the definition of being an American, this bill only prolongs their suffering and their dream from becoming a reality.

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