Texas is known as a business friendly state – low taxes, moderate regulations, and a good supply of workers. When it comes to immigration we have a mixed bag – (1) immigrants willing to work but may be here illegally and may have a low level of education, (2) resident tuition is available to immigrants but a proposal to abolish it if the individual does not have legal status has been introduced, and (3) local law enforcement focus on crimes, not immigration status but a proposal to forbid “sanctuary cities” has been introduced.
The proposals to limit resident tuition to those with legal status on its face makes sense until we realize it may not be wise to limit the education of children who don’t have status. Likewise, we don’t need to inhibit police efforts to solve crimes in the Hispanic communities by requiring them to check everyone’s immigration status.
We should be practical when it comes to educating children brought to the U.S. at an early age as well as supportive of police who want to focus on fighting crimes rather than be immigration cops frightening entire Hispanic communities.
Now we have a new immigration issue in the form of Executive Order No. RP-80, which requires state agencies under the direction of the governor, and contractors of such agencies, to use E-Verify for current and prospective employees. The problem for employers (the State of Texas agencies as well as private employers with contracts to do work for such agencies) is that federal law is clear that employer who sign up for E-Verify can only use it to verify newly hired employees except in certain limited circumstances (e.g. federal contracts under FAR rule). We don’t need this sort of confusion in Texas. While private attorneys and even the federal government agency responsible for E-Verify (USCIS) have pointed out the inconsistency to the governor’s office, RP-80 remains in effect. We encourage business associations, in particular the Texas Association of Business, which understands and promotes the need for fair and consistent immigration benefits and enforcement, to petition the governor’s office to rescind or amend RP-80 to conform with federal law.
Legal immigration is a net benefit to Texas businesses by encouraging entrepreneurs, trade and investment, as well as creating and filling jobs needed by employers. E-Verify is a wonderful tool to assist employers in determining whether prospective employees are authorized for employment but it must be enforced with one set of federal rules, without conflicting state rules.