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Bad bills prefiled in Texas Legislature
By LUPE, January 3, 2011
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Immigrants are an integral part of Texas. They are our fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children; they pay taxes and work hard at honest jobs that make our standard of living possible; they care about their community and work to make it better for all. They are the good guys and they deserve our gratitude.

But unscrupulous politicians would use immigrants as a scapegoat for the state's economic ills and have already prefiled over two dozen anti-immigrant bills. These bad bills won't do anything to put the state back on the right track. They punish the good guys–those decent, hard workers who take care of our kids and build our houses–while letting the real culprits–corrupt politicians and millionaire corporate lobbyists–off the hook for the nation and state's ills.

Make your commitment to fight these bad bills.

So what are these bad bills and what would they do? Here thanks to the tireless work of Joe Heyman and the RITA Communications Committee is a list of these bad bills and how they would affect Texans and the Texas economy:

HB 16, 112, 186, 248; SB 178
[Voter ID bills]

(1) This is an unfunded mandate to local election boards that will cost extra time and effort checking IDs for unnecessary reasons.

(2) There is essentially no problem to be solved here. Voter fraud occurs in tiny numbers and does not affect elections.

(3) This legislation will disenfranchise citizens without simple IDs (e.g., drivers’ licenses). These are disproportionately elderly and minorities.

HB 17
[This bill grants permission for a peace officer to arrest an individual without a warrant, if the officer has probable cause to believe that the individual has violated a civil or criminal provision of federal immigration law.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) This use of “criminal trespass” is of dubious legality. If interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents. It will be costly to defend in court.

HB 18
[This bill requires state agencies and local agencies that adopt a rule or policy that does not fully enforce state or federal immigration law to forfeit or return any state funding related to immigration.]

(1) This is an unfunded mandate on local government. It is an infringement on local government decision-making by duly elected representatives and their officers.

(2) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers.

(3) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(4) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

HB 21
[This bill would require local governmental entities, including school districts, to the determine the citizenship status of people receiving their services.]

(1) This is an expensive unfunded mandate to school districts and other local government entities. The cost in personnel time, training, and data collection processes could easily be in the billions statewide.

(2) Local government personnel are untrained in determining complicated immigration and nationality statuses, and there are possibilities that local governments would be open to liability.

(3) Collecting citizenship and immigration status information from school children and other government users will have a chilling effect on education and other services. Families will be discouraged from using these beneficial services, especially education.

(4) The chilling effect of the law on public schools may violate the Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision and leave the state and school districts open to expensive law suits to determine its legality.

HB 22
[This bill requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to determine the citizenship status of students at their initial enrollment in the district or school, and report that information to the State Board of Education.]

(1) This is an expensive unfunded mandate to school districts. The cost in personnel time, training, and data collection processes could easily be in the billions statewide.

(2) Local school personnel are untrained in determining complicated immigration and nationality statuses, and there are possibilities that school districts would be open to liability.

(3) Collecting citizenship and immigration status information from school will have a chilling effect on education.

(4) The chilling effect of the law on public schools may violate the Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision and leave the state and school districts open to expensive law suits to determine its legality.

HB 81
[Relating to the use of public funds to print certain public documents in a language other than English and other bilingual requirements.]

(1) Providing these documents only in English will prohibit some Texas residents from reading or fully understanding important information. There may be detrimental effects on health, public safety, homeland security and emergencies, and other aspects of state outreach.

HB 113
[This bill would require local law enforcement to enforce the federal immigration law.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) If done in a biased way, this will result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents.

HB 140
[This bill requires that recipients of state grants participate in a federal work eligibility verification program.] HB 178
[This bill requires that state entities participate in the federal work eligibility verification program.] HB 202
[This bill requires that recipients of state grants participate in a federal work eligibility verification program.]

(1) The current E-Verify system has database error rates that make it unworkable.

(2) Overly cautious employers could discriminate against employees they think look possibly undocumented (e.g., any Hispanic), whatever their actual legal status.

(3) This could encourage a black market, cash payment system that would hurt government revenues and cause losses to the Social Security Trust Fund.

HB 176
[This bill would remove requirements that state agencies provide material in languages other than English.] HB 177
[This bill would remove requirements that state agencies provide material in languages other than English.]

(1) Providing these documents only in English will prohibit some Texas residents from reading or fully understanding important information. There may be detrimental effects on health, public safety, homeland security and emergencies, and other aspects of state outreach.

HB 183
[Relating to the duty of a law enforcement agency to verify the immigration status of an arrested person.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(4) Arrest is not the same as conviction, and this bill may affect many people proven innocent of criminal charges. It is open to abuse via pretext arrests.

HB 197
[This bill requires people who wish to receive or renew certain occupational licenses to provide proof of citizenship or immigration status. It also creates a criminal offense for violation.]

(1) This bill imposes a complicated unfunded mandate on local governments and issuing agencies. Immigration and nationality law are extremely complex, and will require long and expensive training.

(2) Mistakes will be burdensome to legitimate applicants and open the possibility of racial profiling. Issuing agencies are vulnerable to lawsuits for wrongful denials.

HB 247
[This bill would require local law enforcement to enforce the federal immigration law.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) The use of “probable cause” for immigration enforcement, if interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents.

HB 292
[This law would deny citizenship to children born in the United States if the child's parents are not lawfully present in the United States.]

(1) The US Constitution guarantees birthright citizenship. This bill is unconstitutional and will be costly and ultimately fruitless for the state to defend in court.

(2) The determination of lawful presence of the parents is highly complex in view of the many and diverse U.S. immigration and nationality laws. It is an expensive, unfunded mandate on Texas hospitals and state agencies. Training costs will be huge. Mistakes leave the state open to expensive lawsuits.

HB 293
[This bill denies access to employment, grants, loans, professional and commercial licenses, welfare, food assistance, disability benefits, housing assistance, or unemployment benefits or assistance if the citizen child's parents were undocumented at the time of the child's birth.]

(1) This bill imposes a complicated unfunded mandate on state agencies and local governments. Immigration and nationality law are extremely complex, and will require long and expensive training to make these decisions.

(2) Mistakes will be burdensome to legitimate applicants and open the possibility of racial profiling. Agencies are vulnerable to lawsuits for wrongful denials.

(3) It may be unconstitutional to deny benefits to one class of children while other children receive these benefits. The state will be subject to long and expensive lawsuits.

(4) It is unethical to discriminate among U.S. citizen children, between eligible versus uneligible ones, for reasons that are not their own fault or choice.

(5) Denial to U.S. citizen children of some of these services, such as food assistance, will have costly long term effects, e.g., in public health and economic productivity.

HB 294
[Relating to prohibiting a person who is in the United States illegally from bringing a claim in a state court.] HB 297
[Relating to prohibiting a person who is in the United States illegally from bringing a claim in a state court.]

(1) This bill is of dubious legality (may violate due process and equal protection). It is likely to bring expensive lawsuits for the state, and likely to lose.

HB 296
[Arizona copycat. Relating to the enforcement of immigration laws, to the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of certain criminal offenses concerning illegal immigration, and to certain employment and labor practices and requirements regarding immigration and immigrants; providing civil and criminal penalties.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) This use of “reasonable suspicion,” if interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents. It will be costly to defend in court.

(6) This bill may cost the state millions to defend in court.

HB 301
[Relating to the establishment of English as the official language of Texas and the requirement that official acts of government be performed in English.]

(1) Providing state documents only in English will prohibit some Texas residents from reading or fully understanding important information. It will reduce public participation. There may be detrimental effects on health, public safety, homeland security and emergencies, and other aspects of state outreach.

(2) Official acts of government is vague and leaves the state open to injunctions and lawsuits, which will be expensive to defend.

HB 302
[This bill would require local law enforcement to enforce the federal immigration law.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) The use of “probable cause” in immigration enforcement, if interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents.

HB 303
[This bill proposes a fee on all money transfers from Texas to Mexico or Central or South America. The fee can only be reimbursed by those who can prove that they are lawfully present in the United States.]

(1) This bill interferes with the free market and sets a bad precedent.

(2) Possibly this bill is unconstitutional (commerce clause) and will be very expensive for the state to defend in the courts.

(3) The bill will be expensive for money transfer companies to administer. It is an unfunded mandate on them.

(4) Immigration law is complex and money transfer companies are not prepared to make accurate decisions. Mistakes will be expensive and the companies will be open to lawsuits.

HB 311
[Relating to the duty of a peace officer to inquire into the immigration status of persons arrested on other grounds.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(4) The use of “reasonable suspicion,” if interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents. It will be costly to defend in court.

(5) Arrest is not the same as conviction, and this bill may affect many people proven innocent of criminal charges. It is open to abuse via pretext arrests.

SB 84
[Relating to requiring governmental entities and contractors with governmental entities to participate in the federal electronic verification of work authorization program, or E-verify.]

(1) The current E-Verify system has database error rates that make it unworkable.

(2) Overly cautious employers could discriminate against employees they think look possibly undocumented (e.g., any Hispanic), whatever their actual legal status.

(3) This could encourage a black market, cash payment system that would hurt government revenues and cause losses to the Social Security Trust Fund.

SB 124
[This bill would require local law enforcement to enforce the federal immigration law.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) Local law enforcement use of “probable cause,” if interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents.

SB 126
[This bill requires a peace officer to verify the immigration status of any person lawfully stopped, detained, or arrested on other grounds if the officer suspects the person to be suspected of a criminal violation of federal immigration law.]

(1) This bill would damage the close relationships between immigrant communities and local police that result in improved community safety and better law enforcement.

(2) Leading authorities on local policing express disapproval or strong concern about local enforcement of immigration status laws. These critics include the Police Foundation, in a major report, and the Major Cities Chiefs of Police.

(3) It would particularly hurt families and women, as undocumented and mixed status families would avoid calling the police in domestic violence cases.

(4) Costs of local law enforcement of immigration status laws are potentially high burdens on municipalities and counties, including police time in stops and in processing arrests, detention before turnover to federal authorities, lawsuits for wrongful stops and arrests, and training in the complexities of immigration law for local officers. This is an unfunded mandate on local government.

(5) Local law enforcement use of “probable cause,” if interpreted in a biased way, could result in racial profiling, imposing burdens on U.S. citizens and legal residents.

SB 151
[Relating to the eligibility of certain persons to receive a sentence of community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision.]

(1) This bill is of dubious legality (may violate equal protection). It is likely to bring expensive lawsuits for the state, and likely to lose.

HJR 38
[This resolution proposes a constitutional amendment declaring English the state language and requiring that official acts of government be conducted in English.]

(1) Providing state documents only in English will prohibit some Texas residents from reading or fully understanding important information. It will reduce public participation. There may be detrimental effects on health, public safety, homeland security and emergencies, and other aspects of state outreach.

(2) Official acts of government is vague and leaves the state open to injunctions and lawsuits, which will be expensive to defend.

Not all the bills filed will be detrimental to Texas. There is one bill that will help immigrants and make all Texans safer, which should be supported:

HB 277
[This bill adds identity documents from foreign governments to the list of identifying documents for a driver's license.]

(1) All people on the Texas roads are safer when all drivers are licensed and insured.


La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) is a community organization based in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. More posts

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