By Nick Gillespie
Via Alan Vanneman, World's Greatest Everything, comes this slow-cooked road apple of a law coming out of Texas, the state where everything is bigger, especially the hypocrisy and/or lack of clear-thinking:
As proposed, House Bill 1202 would create tough state punishments for those who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
But it is an exception included in the bill that is drawing attention. Those who hire unauthorized immigrants would be in violation of the law -- unless they are hiring a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker.
It is a tough immigration bill with a soft side that protects those who hire unauthorized immigrants "for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence."
So you got that? Hiring illegals is bad and you can go to the pokey (hello, Huntsville!) if you do so. Unless the workers you hire are, well, there to look after your spread (as long as they spread ain't a business, right?).
Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, a Republican, said the exception is a wise one.
"With things as they are today, her bill will see a large segment of the Texas population in prison" if it passes without the exception, he said.
Got news for you, state Rep. Pena: a large segment of the Texas population is already in jail.
This sort of bill is worth puzzling over for at least a couple of reasons. First, it represents a surprisingly nuanced mentality when it comes to the question of immigration and business regulation. That is, the legislature is acknowledging that not all activity of either sort can or should be under its control. That's sort of good, just as it would be good if marijuana was made fully legal even if other illegal drugs were not.
Second, it shows the absolute silliness of most laws regarding immigration. The spokesman for the legislator introducing the bill had this to say:
In a interview with the Texas Tribune, Riddle's chief of staff, Jon English, explained that the exception was to avoid "stifling the economic engine" in Texas.
"It is an admittedly clumsy first attempt to say, 'We are really focusing on the big businesses,'" [the spokesman] said. Texans shouldn't be punished for hiring lawn care companies who hire unauthorized immigrants, he said, according to the Texas Tribune's website.
Which both raises and punts the questions: Why should plain ol' regular Lone Star staters be exempt? And why should "big" businesses be targeted? What's the magical mojo that makes one activity A-OK and the other a crime exactly? Texas used to have a state-wide feel-good campaign that promised folks "Texas Friendly Spoken Here." Well, not if you're an immigrant lacking the requisite papers even if you do wanna work. And not if you're a business that is arbitrarily defined as big. In Texas, no less.
Reason Reason on immigration.
And watch Ringo Starr impersonate a Mexican gardener in the neutron-bomb-of-a-movie, 1968's Candy. Now that's something somebody should have done hard time for.