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Business Licensing Bill Targets Undocumented Workers

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-956782.mp3

Dallas, TX – State Representative Burt Solomons, a Carrollton republican, Wednesday defended legislation that would require proof of legal residency for workers seeking state occupational licenses.

Some testifying against the bill in Austin called it anti-immigrant. Luis Figuero is from MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Figuero told lawmakers the documentation requirement would result in some hairdressers, plumbers and others choosing to work without a required license. Solomons and Figuero tangled over that claim.

Solomons: Is it your testimony that it should'nt make any difference that you're here illegally? That we should be giving you the license anyway because you're going to do it anyway? Is that what you're telling me?

Figuero: No what I'm telling you is that the federal government is the one who should be regulating work authorization. So what I think. As the state policymakers you have to set priorities. And the first priority, I think, would be safety to ensure that the people who are getting licenses can actually do that job.

Bill opponents say legal professionals in the midst of getting work authorization would find it difficult to stay in business. They say the state would lose productive workers and tax revenue.

Solomons says the bill is meant to ensure Texas licenses are only granted to legal residents. The legislation must be voted out of a committee before being considered by the entire Texas House.

Email Shelley Kofler