In wake of the recent protests in over the several anti illegal immigration bills being introduced in Austin, there is one bill that certainly stands out among the rest, House Bill 2012. This bill, proposed by Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle, would create tough state punishments for those who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000, as reported in Mariano Castillo's CNN article this afternoon.
Perhaps the most controversial side of the bill is the clause that allows illegal immigrants to be hired as maids, lawn caretakers, or other housework-related jobs. This is interesting because of how many Texans hire illegal immigrants to do these types of jobs. Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, a Democrat, offered a very truthful statement regarding the issue. "With things as they are today, her bill will see a large segment of the Texas population in prison" if it passes without the exception, 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," Pena said. "It is so common, it is overlooked."
Riddle's chief of staff clarified that the bill is targeted more towards the big businesses. "Texans shouldn't be punished for hiring lawn care companies who hire unauthorized immigrants," he said, in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
Look for this bill to be one of the more "talked-about" bills of this legislation because of its relevancy to Texans in particular.
- Matt Looney