Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
The latest bill addressing illegal immigration and the hiring of undocumented workers in Texas would broaden the scope of employers subject to scrutiny — and extend the penalties for violators to include possible jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Exempt from the proposed rule? People who hire undocumented workers as domestic helpers in their family homes.
House Bill 1202, authored by state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, would make it a state jail felony to knowingly hire undocumented workers in Texas. The bill would punish those who “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” hire or contract with an "unauthorized alien", or with someone who knowingly subcontracts with an undocumented worker. The maximum fine is $10,000, and guilty parties could face a stint in prison of 180 days to two years. (Riddle has also filed HB 17, legislation that would make being in the state illegally a trespassing offense.)
There are exemptions in HB 1202, however, including one that could make the proposal more acceptable to House Republicans concerned with the federal electronic employment verification system known as E-Verify. While several Republicans have filed bills mandating the use of E-Verify, others suggest it has proven flaws and could potentially act as a deterrent to otherwise capable and legal applicants. Riddle's bill doesn't specify E-Verify and says employers have an out if they make a concerted effort to verify status in any manner "that is more likely than not to produce a correct and reliable result."
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There is also an exception for domestic help. People who hire or contract with someone for work “exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence" are off the hook.