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Gingersnap
03-04-2011, 10:13 AM
Illegal-hiring bill spurs jest and jeers

Legislation would exempt punishment for family employers
By JENNIFER RADCLIFFE and PEGGY FIKAC
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
March 4, 2011, 8:38AM

A proposed immigration law being cast in jest across the country as a way for Texans to rid the work force of illegal immigrants while protecting their low-paid nannies and gardeners drew serious concern Thursday from advocates who fear the bill could have a chilling effect across the state.

Rep. Debbie Riddle's House Bill 1202 calls for two years in jail and up to $10,000 fines for people who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" hire unauthorized immigrants. Specifically exempted: Laborers relegated to "work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence."

"House Bill 1202 has just really created an uproar in our community," said Laura Murillo, president of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Riddle "makes an exception for those that might clean her own house or take care of her children. If you can't read between those lines, I don't know what lines you can read between."

Murillo called the bill inhumane and other advocates suggested that it could have serious civil rights ramifications for people of all races and immigration statuses.

"It has an element of 'as long as you know your place,' " said Clarissa Martinez De Castro, director of immigration for the National Council of La Raza.

Riddle, a Tomball Republican, said she didn't expect some of the national reaction to the legislation.

"I'm not very politically correct most of the time. I'm not too good at it," she said. "What I'm trying to do is inject common sense into government. I'm finding out that's not too easy."

In an ideal world, Riddle said no one would hire illegal immigrants. But she said she included the exception because homeowners don't have access to E-verify, the federal Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.

"The reason that we have, in my opinion, so many folks coming over here illegally is because businesses sort of put a big ol' bowl of candy in the middle of the room and say 'If you can get across the border and through the door then you've got plenty of candy, a job, entitlements, and if you bear children they'll be citizens,' " she said. "What we need to do is remove the big bowl of candy. It's unfair to the taxpayers of Texas to carry the burden."

Curtis Collier, president of U.S. Border Watch, said he could see the bill getting notice on late-night talk shows, but only because people don't understand Riddle's intent.

Instead of exempting "family" employers, the bill should create a fix for the verification process.

Chron (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7456298.html)