The Texas Observer tells of some pre-filing mischief by State Rep. Debbie Riddle.
House Bill 50 would bar undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition. Similar bills failed last session. HB 48 would allow for state investigations into employers who have "knowingly" hired illegal immigrants. The Texas Workforce Commission could, through a tribunal process, strip the employer of state-issued licenses. (Call it the Brown Scare: "Mr. Smith, are you now or have you ever been the employer of an ILLEGAL ALIEN?")
A third bill, HB 49, has received much less attention. It would create a new misdemeanor offense -- Criminal Trespass By Illegal Aliens -- that would appear to apply to a virtually limitless number of border-hoppers. Under the legislation, cops would be authorized to arrest individuals believed to be "trespassing" in Texas, among other federal immigration violations. Riddle's new trespassing crime is in fact a state application of long-standing federal statutes that prohibit illegal entry into the U.S.
In recent years, federal prosecutors, working with the Border Patrol, have clogged Texas border courts with immigration cases. It's part of the Bush administration's "Operation Streamline," a zero-tolerance program that aims to charge, convict, and deport every single apprehended illegal entrant.
That's not good enough for Riddle. Her bill would dramatically widen this dragnet by allowing local law enforcement in on the game. The concern among immigrant rights groups is whether it's appropriate for local cops to essentially enforce federal immigration laws.