Texas has long been a hotbed of controversy on immigration issues. And a proposed immigration bill in the Texas state House is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows. The bill would make hiring an “unauthorized alien” a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, unless that is, they are hired to do household chores.
Yes, under the House Bill 2012 introduced by a tea party favorite state Rep. Debbie Riddle — who’s been saying for some time that she’d like to see Texas institute an Arizona-style immigration law — hiring an undocumented maid, caretaker, lawnworker or any type of houseworker would be allowed. Why? As Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, also a Republican, told CNN, without the exemption, “a large segment of the Texas population” would wind up in prison if the bill became law.
“When it comes to household employees or yard workers it is extremely common for Texans to hire people who are likely undocumented workers,” Pena told the news giant. “It is so common it is overlooked.”
Jon English, Rep. Riddle’s chief of staff explained that the exemption was an attempt to avoid “stifling the economic engine” in Texas, which today is, somewhat ironically, celebrating its declaring independence from Mexico in 1836.
“Excepting household workers from a 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,” legal ethics writer Jack Marshall wrote on his blog. “It guarantees a measure without integrity that sends a mixed enforcement message and does nothing to stop the long-standing deplorable ‘we don’t want you but somebody has to do those menial jobs’ attitude that has paralyzed our immigration policy for decades.”
Rep. Riddle made headlines last year when she claimed unnamed FBI officials had told her that pregnant women from the Middle East were traveling to America as tourists to give birth, and then raising their children to be terrorists who could later enter the U.S. freely as citizens — so-called “terror babies,” a devious offshoot of “anchor babies.” She became somewhat infamous on the web when she stumbled repeatedly in a CNN interview about the claims, complaining later that host Anderson Cooper’s line of questioning was more intense than she had prepared for.
“They did not tell me you were going to grill me on specific information that I was not ready to give to you tonight,” Riddle said when Cooper pressed her for more details. “They did not tell me that, sir.”