The Texas state legislature joined Arizona’s war on illegal immigration in a characteristically big way last Monday. State Rep. Debbie Riddle actually camped out before the chief clerk’s office to get low docket numbers for her illegal immigration bills. One would criminalize trespassing in Texas by illegal aliens, and a second would require state-issued voter IDs. Almost simultaneously, state Sen. Dan Patrick also offered two bills, one outlawing sanctuary cities and a second empowering law enforcement to question suspects’ immigration status.
All told, nine bills attacking problems caused by illegals were offered, including imprisoning unlicensed drivers who cause serious accidents, requiring schools to report illegal students and making burglary of a motor vehicle a felony. Since the new legislature is strongly conservative, chances are good for passage of all nine.
Of course, the usual suspects vow to fight for illegal immigration forever. Democrat state Rep. Mike Villarreal argued that every study has shown that stopping illegal immigration would “strangle the state’s economy.” However, a recent report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform puts the total annual price tag for handling Mexico’s overflow population at $113 billion, of which the states pay three-fourths unaided, or $84 billion. Texas’ share is nearly $9 billion, a tidy sum that, freed up, could spark considerable investment and employment, or even zero-out the state’s total deficit. Far from strangling it, the end of Ted Kennedy’s dream of a third-world America would strengthen the state’s economy.