Texas is weighing several immigration proposals modeled on Arizona's strict (and controversial) law, but one in particular is drawing nationwide "jest and jeers." A bill from state Rep. Debbie Riddle (R) would fine or jail anyone who employs undocumented immigrants — unless it's to clean the house, mow the lawn, or do other work "performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence." Riddle aide Jon English says exempting maids and nannies is a "clumsy" way to keep from "stifling the economic engine" in Texas. So, is that a nod to reality, or a wink to the wealthy?
This is a glaring double standard: Riddle clearly thinks a $10,000 fine and two years in jail would "inconvenience the rich folks," says O. Ricardo Pimentel in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But "the business guy trying to eke out a profit? Just too bad" for him, and the rest of us. Maybe it's time to "recognize that undocumented workers across the board wouldn't be here if there weren't a demand."
"We interrupt our coverage of the Madison showdown to bring you..."
But the bill wouldn't work without this exception: Riddle is just legislating in the real world, not an ideal one, says state Rep. Aaron Pena (R), as quoted by CNN. If she included domestic workers, "with things as they are today, her bill will see a large segment of the Texas population in prison." Hiring undocumented workers to work in your home of on your yard is "extremely common" in Texas, so much so that "it is often overlooked."
"Texas immigration bill has big exception"
Riddle's bill is refreshingly honest... sort of: What's remarkable about Riddle's bill is that a right-wing legislator is actually acknowledging that undocumented immigrants "have become a necessary part of our economy," says L.S. Carbonell in Lez Get Real. "Tea Party, meet reality." But her rationale for the "don't touch my maid!" loophole is bunk. "Hitting farmers and ranchers would have more impact on the Texas 'economic engine' than going after nannies," by far.
"Don't touch my maid!"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- Rise of the machines
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- It's time to kill school picture day
- The man who wasn't there: Obama and the 2014 midterms
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
Subscribe to the Week