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KUT News Staff
Immigration Battles Heat Up...Again
Ever since Arizona passed its controversial immigration law last year, some Texas lawmakers have been chomping at the bit for their chance to push similar legislation here. And sure enough within minutes of the opening of the 2011 bill filing period State Representative Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) filed a handful of bills related to illegal immigration.
Riddle's bills along with dozens more either already filed or about to be filed by other lawmakers cover everything from penalties to businesses that are found employing undocumented workers to ending birthright citizenship for the Texas-born children of undocumented immigrants.
Today two large coalitions, TRUST (Texas Residents United for a Stronger Texas) and RITA (Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance) held a press conference at the Texas Capitol to call on lawmakers to not pass the legislation members say could be harmful to all Hispanics and the Texas economy. Bill Hammond with the Texas Association of Business said the bills aimed at making sure undocumented workers don't work in Texas could, at best, place unfunded mandates on small businesses and, at worst, would severely penalize businesses that don't have the time or money to scrutinize the backgrounds of their employees.
El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles threw in his 2-cents saying the bills being pushed as things to help border security, like having local law enforcement check immigration status, will hurt public safety.
These bills are nothing new. Many have been filed in one form or anther for the last few legislative sessions. State Representative Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas) says the difference this time is the Texas House. Last session the House was split 76 Republicans and 74 Democrats. This session the Republicans hold a 101 to 49 edge.