Texas Immigration Law Makes Room for House-Mexicans

The worst part about Texas House Bill 1202 is that the authors don’t see how it’s insulting and hypocritical, on the other hand the bill paints a realistic picture of what some folks not only don’t get, they don’t see it at all. So in a house-Mexican and field-Mexican kind of way, it makes perfect sense.

TX HB1202, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Riddle, is, at its core, a very tough immigration bill. CNN.com says:

As proposed, House Bill 1202 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.

If that were where it ended we’d know which pile to toss it on. There are literally hundreds of bills just like HB1202 being filed and debated in states across the country. But this one deserves to be tossed in a pile of…it’s own. Debbie Riddle put a caveat in her bill:

that protects those who hire unauthorized immigrants “for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence.”

Seriously. It’s made news so I’m sure this is not new to you. But the more I think about it the more ridiculous this bill sounds, even for Texas.

In essence Riddle’s little exception applies to people who hire undocumented domestic workers because, according to political party flip-flopper Rep. Aaron Peña, “when it comes to household employees or yard workers it is extremely common for Texans to hire people who are likely undocumented workers. It is so common it is overlooked.” One gets the feeling they’re asking for gratitude for hiring the undocumented and should then be exempted from the potential law. But if anyone should know better, it would be Peña. Regardless of his turned coat he is from the Rio Grande Valley where the percentage of Latino population is overwhelmingly large. I’m sure the voters in his district see the hypocrisy of the bill.

The way I read this, an undocumented household employee or yard worker is still subject to immigration laws and its penalties, but the person who hires them, pays them less than minimum wage, and skips on contributing social security and payroll taxes is not. Because it’s common? It’s OK because everybody does it?

I once knew an affluent family who hired Mexican maids and called them all Maria, regardless of what their real name was. This bill is exactly like that. It cleaves a distinction between all undocumented workers and the Maria’s and Jose’s who are handy with a feather duster and a leaf blower.

Do you get the feeling that this thing is a set-up? How many times have staunch anti-immigrant conservatives been busted with undocumented domestic help, or tossing hay in their estate stables? This would get them off the hook. But Maria, if caught, is still deported.

I have a theory about why bad politicians keep getting re-elected. I call it the Walmart effect. Everyone hates the corporate discount giant for many reasons. It’s too big, it doesn’t treat its employees well, its too crowded; but almost everyone is OK with their particular neighborhood Walmart. Same with congress and all other politicos. They suck, except for my guy/gal, he/she’s OK. Riddle and her ilk use the same skewed logic: all hiring of undocumented workers is bad, except for me and my Mexicans.

We should give an award for outstanding hypocrisy, call it the cool-arrow award, and Riddle should be the first recipient.

Follow Victor Landa on Twitter @vlanda.

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