The Onslaught: Anti-Immigrant Bills in Texas

It’s going to be a tough year for competitors vying for the Sipping the Most Haterade Award, in terms of anti-immigrant legislation. Florida and Georgia look like they may outpace Arizona, but really, folks, everything is bigger in Texas…

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Meet State Representative Debbie “Marvolo” Riddle.

Sorry, typo. I meant this:

She’s a horse breeder from the Houston suburbs, and she wears ugly Christmas sweaters. I know, she already annoys you, doesn’t she? Well, she’s also Taking Back America alongside other Texas legislators (Berman, Solomons, Flynn, etc.) by proposing a slew of anti-people-of-color and anti-immigrant bills. Get ready, here we go… a roundup of some of the most superfun pre-filed bills for the 102nd Texas state house. Look up the bills and read the text for yourself by searching here.

Arizona comes to Texas

HB 17 (Riddle) – The bill is in two parts: First, it makes undocumented immigration an act of criminal trespassing, instead of an administrative offense. Then, it directs law enforcement to “arrest, without a warrant, a person who the officer has probable cause to believe” is an “illegal alien.”

This is the SB1070 copycat. Apparently, living and working in a country without the proper documentation should be considered a criminal act, tantamount to (according to my Wikipedia search) petty theft, prostitution, public intoxication, simple assault, disorderly conduct, trespass, vandalism, drug possession, and reckless driving, (depending on jurisdiction). Le sigh.

The following two bills are similar, and try to circumvent the problems that SB1070 faced in court:

HB 183 (Solomons) Would direct law enforcement in Texas to verify the “immigration status” on anyone arrested. This is slightly different- it means that once somebody is detained for a different offense, they can then be questioned as to their immigration status.

HB 296 (Berman) During any detention or arrest made by a peace officer or law enforcement agency, the officer would be able to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person detained or arrested.  However, the investigation of a person’s immigration status may not serve as grounds for the detention or arrest.

“They will ask everybody the same question about their immigration status,” says Berman. Right.

Voter ID, AKA, why do we even have the Civil Rights Act?

HB 16 (Riddle) – Would require voters to present photo identification or two forms of non-photo identification before they are allowed to cast a ballot. Also known as the Voter ID bill.

Awesome. What if I don’t have a driver’s license, because I can’t afford a car anyways? What if I don’t have a passport, because I have no intention of leaving the great state of Texas? What if your paranoia is not my problem?

Expect this to get a lot of action. It came close in the last legislature, and it should have an even better shot this time around.  However, a bill that takes us back to a pre-civil rights era, in which people had to prove citizenship, prove literacy, and prove “good moral standing” (once upon a time, not too long ago, a white person had to vouch for the character of an African-American who wanted to vote) in order to vote is going to upset a lot of people.

P.S. I have yet to meet an undocumented immigrant who has tried to vote. And I know a lot.

Blacklisting Children

HB 22 (Riddle) –  Requires public schools to determine the citizenship and immigration status of each student when that child enrolls in the school.  Require Texas public schools to compile information on students including “citizenship or immigration status,” and provide data to the state on the number of students who are “citizens,” “immigrants” or “enrolled in bilingual education.”

“The taxpayers are the ones who are paying the tab for these children to be educated. By law, if the children are here, then they must be educated. I’m not disputing that, but I do think it’s grossly unfair to ask taxpayers to pay for something they didn’t know they were paying for,” says Riddle, “If you’re going to ask taxpayers to pick up the tab, they at least deserve to know what they are paying for.”

I believe it was evil Dolores Umbridge who spearheaded the Muggle-Born Registration Commission… Purebloods have nothing to worry about. Oh, Debbie. Debbie. Marvolo. Riddle.

This is heinous. And the rest of the state thinks so too. The Houston Chronicle has wasted no time in condemning HB 22.

I have an idea. We can make immigrant students wear something, so that way we can tell who’s who. I think they did something like this in Germany. In the 1930s.

English-Only Laws

HB 38 (Berman) – A constitutional amendment to establish English as the official language of Texas and require that official acts of government be performed in English.

Because right now, everything is being spoken in Texan, and it’s really hard for the rest of the country to understand us. We get it. We’ll try to change, y’all.

HB 81 (Flynn) – Prohibits state agencies from using any public money to print non-English documents or signs.

a) Pressing “1” for English is getting really, really hard lately.

b) Or, it’s discrimination, and personally, what pops into my mind is that passing this bill is just plain mean to all the Mexican, Filipino, and Korean grannies who waited 800 billion years for their immigration applications to process, and now they’re 70 years old and it’s a little late to start learning English, and now it’s going to be just plain difficult to go to the DMV, register to vote, help their grandkids navigate the public school system, or do anything normal.

c) Also, this:

Courtesy of xkcd.

HB 177 (Jackson) – Drivers License – Requires proof of citizenship in order to get any occupational license, driver’s license, or official Texas ID.

It still boggles my mind that people are this impractical. All this means is that there are a whole lot of unlicensed drivers on the road, and everything that it entails. Great idea.

Watch for ICE, y’all.

Fun with E-Verify (The farm lobby is going to love this! LOVE IT!)

HB 178 (Jackson) “Relating to requiring governmental entities to participate in the federal electronic verification of work authorization program or E-verify”

HB 197 (Solomons) – Requires proof of citizenship to work in Texas and makes it a Class A misdemeanor (criminal offense, like one year in jail and/or $4000 fine) to hire undocumented immigrants.

That’s a little steep, bro.

HB 202 (Solomons) “Relating to requiring state contractors to participate in the federal electronic verification of work authorization program, or E-verify.”

E-Verify will ensure that only people with the proper documentation can be employed in the United States.*  That way, we can make absolutely sure undocumented immigrants stop taking people’s jobs: check out all those unemployed Americans lining up to mow lawns, wash dishes, clean houses, and become farmworkers…

Georgia’s farm lobbies have already responded strongly to similar proposed legislation in their own state. “Many farmers are heavily dependent on immigrant labor to harvest crops by hand, particularly vegetables and peaches that are easily bruised and damaged by machines.” See the full story here…Gotta protect those delicious Georgia peaches!

*E-Verify doesn’t work so well: “E-Verify incorrectly reports to participating employers that illegal workers are legal more than half the time.”

In Which They Attempt to Circumvent the 14th Amendment

HB 292 (Berman) Seeks to deny birth certificates to children born of undocumented parents.  “We want to be sued in federal court so the attorney general can take it to the Supreme Court, and a judge can read the amendment and realize the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to foreigners,” says Berman.

HB 293 (Berman) Relating to the eligibility of an individual born in this state whose parents are illegal aliens to receive state benefits.

I look forward to that Supreme Court case, twat.

Why is this Socialist Fascist Kenyan man our President?

HB 295 (Berman) Would require the Texas secretary of state to “not certify the name of a candidate for president or vice-president unless the candidate has presented the candidate’s original birth certificate indicating that the person is a natural-born United States citizen.”

Why are we still talking about this?

100 Dollars is a Lot of Money to Send to your family in Guadalajara, Mister.

HB 303 (Berman) Would “charge a fee on a money transmission that originates in this state and is transmitted to a destination in Mexico or in Central or South America for a personal, family, or household purpose.” The folks at Burnt Orange Report said it best: So Berman wants to charge a fee on undocumented immigrants sending money back home to family south of the Rio Grande, but doesn’t seem to want to charge a fee on corporations sending money south of the Rio Grande for business?


The House is where most of the action is, and a lot of these bills have companions proposed in the Senate. You can track these bills by going to Texas Legislature Online and receive updates.

The legislative session kicks off soon. To stay updated with dreamactivist and our organizing, please subscribe to our emails (top of the site).

And as always, send me your thoughts, jokes, quotes, and anecdotes at flavia@dreamactivist.org. Thanks for reading!

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8 thoughts on “The Onslaught: Anti-Immigrant Bills in Texas

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  4. Great round up. Thanks for your WORK!

    @chiteng yes, unlawful presence is a violation of federal law– but that law categorically classifies the offense as non-criminal. That’s one reason why state-level radical conservatives try so hard to legislate criminalizing provisions.

  5. Pingback: DREAMActivist.org | Blog | Mobilization in Texas: Register Today

  6. Haha… I’d say this is funny :D. But is even funnier how other people want to justify their nativism. I’m a Texan, I was born in Mexico, raised there, but now I got a paper that says I am a FULL AMERICAN CITIZEN!!! 😛 and what? I do speak Spanish and I do think I am a MEXICAN!! Politically correct I am Mexican-American. Open your minds and realize that the papers do not say what you believe in or what you do for a country, but your emotional attachment to your costumes and patriotic values. THUS even thou any patriotic person or nativist will say that I’m not American enough (for which I agree) by law and BY PAPERS I AM AS AMERICAN AS YOU!!! SO F%&# YOU IF YOU TRY TO PUT MY OPINION DOWN!!!

    Now, here is my point of view to the different posts here. The law in America is so twisted towards hurting determined groups or helping certain others, that now is really hard to stand in a position without contradicting previous postures. Through the American history, that I recently learned, you can clearly see that people that just hate other people that do not follow what they want, end up losing. Since the beginning of America, the founders, then Abraham Lincoln, and later MLK & Cesar Chavez, fought against traditions and sentimental customs that were affecting certain groups that lived in what we know as AMERICA, protecting freedom and the individual human rights.

    And YOU KNOW WHAT?? THEY WON!! And they just did not win, they won because they were right, they were defending a rightful thing, not in terms of jurisprudence but in terms of human morality and liberties. They won because it was stupid to pay taxes to a country that doesn’t care about you. They won because is stupid to make a slave of a person just because he/she is black. They won because it is stupid to discriminate a person, deny education, and deny jobs, just because they are not white.
    Now in the XXI Century, people is standing against other humans because they stop believing in freedom for those who are not American… which is ok right? or not? no wait, WE ARE FIGHTING IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ!! I mean we are in the war because it is going to give freedom to the people in Afghanistan and Iraq. AND WE ARE SPENDING BILLIONS ON THAT not mentioning all of our relatives that have given their lives for that freedom. So we do believe in freedom. OH BUT WAIT YOU OPPOSE THE FREEDOMS FOR THOSE WHO ARE HERE??? BINGO!? Why? oh because they violated the law 😦 just like you when you are driving 65 on 60. You may not get a ticket but hey, you are breaking the law. I mean is ok because of that, but like with everything in AMERICA, LETS OUR LAWYERS TO SETTLE IT DOWN WITH THE COURT! PLEASE?? stop bs around wasting time.

    Oh is that simple…? is the money… man,, really you crying for money when we spent a lot of money on getting fat everyday with Mcds, when in America we spent BILLIONS ON PORNOGRAPHY!! (which is a crime by the way) and worst we keep our old not innovative and inefficient car companies working with our TAXPAYER MONEY!!!! (mm socialism?? No cuz is for the good of America, we need companies to keep or economy good… YEAH RIGHT!, Like Toyota doesn’t hire American workers,, smh) I mean, MAN TO ME THAT IS F’ UP!!! (and excuse the language, but money should not be an issue here).

    Invasion?? REALLY?? I mean let me see… mmm so we are invading your country?? since when do you own AMERICA?? I am as AMERICAN AS YOU!!!! And FYI, most of the “invasors” come here cuz while you are arguing here, AMERICA NEEDS ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND CROP PICKERS THAT ARE PREPARED!!! EVEN THOU SOME DNT EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH!! America by itself cannot fully supply them so they have to come from somewhere else!! (TRADE?) Its called globalization and outsourcing… by the way a lot of Americans are working outside the U.S. some illegally.

    And lastly a guy here wants to compare the U.S. on citizenship rights to the other DEVELOPED NATIONS??, well that is great. But don’t just take on thing. Now compare them in politics, in work hours a week, on quality of life, on environment protection, in technology, IN EDUCATION, IN NUMBER OF BOOKS READ A WEEK!!!, on HEALTHCARE!, on the division of the social classes and distribution of income. I mean if you take a look at the world you would realize that the U.S. has a lot of things to take care and that even thou immigration in one of them, by offering foolish nativist solutions you won’t solve anything.
    I’ll say to you get a life, do community service, start recycling, and above all rent movies from all around the world. You would quickly realize that We have a great country and a lot of people will come! And that my friend is not necessarily bad. EMBRACE OTHERS and DO GOOD WITHOUT LOOKING TO WHOM?

    THANKS IF YOU READ!!

  7. Pingback: DREAMActivist.org | Blog | Texas DREAMers: "We are not going away."

  8. Pingback: State GOP turning Texas blue? « Reform Immigration For America

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