Texas, Migrants, H.B. 1202 and Hypocrisy

Topic: Texas and H.B. 1202

Purpose: H.B. 1202 proposes to make it a felony to do business with anyone that is possibly an illegal alien, or what it calls “unauthorized alien”.

Major Exception: This bill would exempt “domestic help”: lawncare, nannies, almost anyone that works at your residence — and many family-run farms in Texas are also classified as a residence. So people — aka employers — who hire or contract with someone for work “exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence” are off the hook.

This bill was originally introduced back in early March 2011, and appears to have stalled in committee where it has remained since  April 13, 2011

Texas Labor Code (201.047) also exempts from consideration of a person as being employed if the person working on a farm or ranch makes less than $6,250 per quarter — with most migrant farmhands making just $3,510 per quarter.

Some thoughts:

— Over 80% of all agricultural workers in Texas are migrants, and 95% are Mexican.

— The average reported wage for hired farm labor is $6.75/hour or $3,510 per quarter … barely half of the Texas legal requirement to be considered ’employed’.

— It can be difficult and time consuming to get a work visa. Three government agencies are involved in the work visa process, with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) being a third checkbox determination as to whether an H2-A migrant seasonal worker visa should be granted. Three agencies = slow, slow, slow.

— The DHS issued ONLY 149,763 H2-A migrant work visas (2009) for the entire USA. An H2-A visa can be granted without limit if an employer agrees to pay market rates, provide health care and basic benefits (shelter/food) to their workers.

— Farmers so abuse the system that Texas state government issued a 2010-2011 TEXAS MANUAL FOR IDENTIFICATION AND RECRUITMENT OF MIGRANT CHILDREN — in an attempt to remind farmers that some things are just unacceptable.

— Per the federal government, Texas has the largest migrant worker population of any state and quite specifically the feds say that these migrant workers have only one skill: agriculture.


So what does it all mean?

Dear Fellow Conservatives and others,

As a conservative I take great pride in the Jeffersonian principle that freedom means freedom of choice and action free from government interference, but enjoying freedom also requires that no harm should be done to another.

Texas H.B. 1202 does only one thing: it demonizes an entire group of people that it will probably never affect. Once you consider the parameters of Texas Labor Law (quarterly earnings) and the exemption of domestic help then you have probably exempted 80-85% of all illegal aliens from this law being applied. So why even trot this bill out to begin with?

Let’s stop being hateful.

I believe in strong borders. I get it that ‘illegal’ means illegal. I strongly believe that we are shipping American jobs overseas and we need to fix that.

However I also believe that we have essentially invited these millions of illegal immigrants to our country because it is profitable.

Illegal migrant labor is profitable because we write guidelines that overlooks the employment of the vast majority — because it is cheaper to hire these folks than to pay a decent wage to your fellow Americans or to legal migrants and to provide basic benefits.

Let’s stop being hypocritical about why we have illegal aliens.

“If the Mexican farm laborers all went back tomorrow, the U.S. farm system would collapse” per one major Texas farmer, who was backed up by Texas Produce Association president John McClung (2007). McClung says that  industry wants a legal workforce and supported President George W. Bush’s attempt to formalize the status of millions of illegal migrant workers, which failed.

H.B. 1202 is hateful and hypocritical. No attempt whatsoever has been made to give some legal status within Texas to these folks that keep its agricultural system competitive and productive.

When I first wrote about this issue back  in March some readers said that I was just being ‘business unfriendly’.

I am not unfriendly to business just because I refuse to look beyond reality: we are encouraging illegal migrants and to write guidelines that keep them in dirty and minimal wage jobs.

I am not unfriendly to business just because I refuse to ignore the plight of hardworking abused people that are being abused and exploited so that you and I can enjoy cheap food, or mow our laws, or wash our clothes and keep our kids.

I am no less a conservative because I believe many that call themselves conservatives are being hateful and hypocritical.

Let’s secure the borders. But let’s also secure our hearts and acknowledge why we have an illegal alien problem: we invited them here.

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