The “Ethics Dunce” designation was invented for people like Texas Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle.
She has proposed one of the many anti-illegal immigration bills currently being considered in the Texas state legislature. Her brainchild, and I use that term generously, is House Bill 2012. Man, it’s tough! It would punish those who “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” hire unauthorized immigrants with penalties up to two years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
Riddle does have what she considers a reasonable exception, however. She believes it is dastardly to hire illegals, rewarding their disregard of our immigration procedures and willful violation of our laws, and creating an incentive for others to do the same…unless they are hiring a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker!
How does she justify this? Her colleague and fellow Ethics Dunce state Rep. Aaron Pena, also a Republican, explains: “When it comes to household employees or yard workers it is extremely common for Texans to hire people who are likely undocumented workers,” Pena said. Meanwhile,Riddle’s chief of staff, Jon English, explained to the press that the exception was put in the bill to avoid “stifling the economic engine” in Texas.
Riddle is a disgrace. Excepting household workers from a anti-immigration laws renders the law impotent and self-contradictory, just like the current U.S. immigration policy, of which it is almost a perfect microcosm. It guarantees a measure without integrity that sends a mixed enforcement message and does nothing to stop the long-standing deplorable “we don’t want you but somebody has to do those menial jobs” attitude that has paralyzed our immigration policy for decades.
Her bill is cynical, posing as a tough measure but refusing to inconvenience anti-immigration hypocrites who can’t find maids, and ethically idiotic, enshrining “everybody does it, so it’s not wrong” logic for the Texans who are happy to employ scofflaws when they need their lawns mowed, while rejecting it for a business that needs someone to dig some holes.
No one needs to dig any holes, however, in Debbie Riddle’s ethics, integrity or logic. There are plenty already.