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The dog that hasn’t barked yet

The most dispensible member of the Harris County legislative caucus hasn’t done what she normally does yet.

Riddle me this, Batman

Camping out in the Texas Capitol to ensure a prime designation for your legislation on illegal immigration? That’s so 2011.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle braved a cold, creepy-noise-filled Capitol two years ago in part to obtain a priority bill number for her measure to create the offense of “criminal trespass by alien,” filed second only to her voter ID bill.

She also filed bills last session to require school districts to determine whether students were citizens upon enrollment, crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, nudge state agencies to tally the costs of serving people not legally in Texas and impose criminal penalties on businesses employing workers who were illegally in the country – except for maids and gardeners.

This year, the Tomball Republican has yet to file an immigration bill, although she hasn’t ruled it out.


Riddle also has encountered the march of events, received feedback from her constituents and done a bit more research.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of Arizona’s get-tough bill on illegal immigration, and Riddle said she’s looking at what might still be allowed in the wake of that ruling.

The bill requiring state agencies to tally the cost of services to immigrants here illegally? Riddle said agencies already keep tabs on that, which she didn’t know before filing the measure last time.

As for criminal sanctions for businesses, Riddle said local employers wanted to do the right thing but that they could get in trouble for mistakenly firing someone they believe is here illegally.

Likewise, her local school superintendents said it would be a logistical nightmare to try to track students’ citizenship. Besides, she said, a test was done in one large district that found most children were born here.

There’s little point in trying to understand the motivations of someone like Debbie Riddle, who is an awful person that – to put it gently – would have difficulty on “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” Author Peggy Fikac doesn’t say in her column, but it would not surprise me if a bit of arm-twisting had been applied to Riddle behind the scenes by the likes of the Texas Association of Business and Rick Perry. If so, I can only assume such threats would have had to do with the prospects of any other legislation she might file or care about, since there’s no reason to take any kind of electoral threat over the immigration issue from TAB seriously. The next time they go after a Republican for being an immigration apostate will be the first time they do so. I have no evidence to back my speculation here so I certainly could be wrong, it’s just that I have a hard time believing someone like Riddle would ever be swayed by silly things like objective evidence. Whatever the case, the less Riddle in 2013, the better.

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