East Texas Representative proposes Arizona copycat bill
POSTED: Friday, February 25, 2011 - 9:59pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 4:24pm
It's being called the Arizona copycat. House Bill 296, proposed by East Texas Representative Leo Berman.
"If the federal government won't do it, it's our job to do it. Just like the governor of Arizona is trying to make it her job to do it," says Berman. He's trying to take illegal immigration into the state's hands in a three-part bill, similar but not exactly the same, as the one passed in Arizona.
"In the bill I filed, in the first part, a local police officer, if they stopped a person, would ask everybody the same question. And as long as you're asking everybody the same question about their immigration status, it doesn't make it illegal. There is no profiling at all," Berman says.
But there are concerns about racial profiling if the first part of the bill passes. Cynthia Bustos, an hispanic woman who works in a local family-owned business, says "I would be very offended by it, knowing that i was born here in the U.S. and just by the way I look."
But Berman says, "I don't think East Texans would have any problems with it. If a police officer stops you, they're going ask you the same question, basically, anyways. And they know right away, that if you show them the correct identification, that you are legally in the U.S., and that you are a citizen of the U.S. and Texas."
Another concern with this bill is the cost of enforcing it. East Texas Democrat Dr. Dennis Teal, believes it would further strain the $27-billion dollar deficit in Texas.
"The time that's spent, the hundreds of thousands of man hours that will be spent, checking East Texan's papers, really should be spent out there getting people who burglarize our homes, commit sexual assaults, and people that are robbing stores and murdering," says Teal. The second part of the bill deals with jobs.
"There are some businesses that want them here, the construction business. There are some that don't want them here because they try to go into direct competition with American businesses," says Berman.
The bill requires East Texas companies to "e-verify" an applicant's immigration status, to make sure they are legal. "We want those employers hiring East Texans that are citizens. Be them Hispanic, be them Anglo, be them African-American, want want to see our citizens have those jobs first," saysTeal.
But Bustos believes the demand for cheap labor is too high. "American people come and pick them up because they know they will do the job well, and pay less for what the job requires," she said.
Whether this bill passes or not, Democrats and Republicans in East Texas agree: something needs to happen.
"We need the federal government to do a better job than what they've done," says Teal.
"Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina have all passed excellent laws dealing with illegal aliens, so the illegal aliens are self-deporting themselves. The problem is, where are they going? They're coming to Texas," says Berman.