TX lawmaker to propose similar AZ immigration bill

HOUSTON Hispanic Republicans wanted to hear the views of State Rep. Debbie Riddle of Tomball Wednesday night. She plans on introducing an immigration bill here in Texas that's similar to the one that recently passed in Arizona.

While the discussions inside were cordial, demonstrators outside chanted and marched and the attention they drew almost brought Interstate 45 to a halt.

Their message was "Stop the hate."

The demonstration was held outside the Ranchero King Buffet, which was hosting the Republican's National Hispanic Assembly. They were discussing the possibility of an immigration bill in Texas that would be similar to that of Arizona's law.

Riddle is sponsoring the bill, saying border violence has taken its toll.

"With what we've got coming across the border, the drug cartels, with the crime, with the gangs, with the violence," she said.

Riddle wants to give law enforcement officers the power to question one's legal status if they have reasonable suspicions.

"If the person is breaking the law, and he's got reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain them for another crime that is being committed or about to be committed, it's very specific," Riddle said.

But opponents say the bill would open the door to racial profiling.

"It encourages and allows law enforcement people to try and determine somebody's immigration status based on the way that they look," local business owner Hector Chavana Jr. said.

But one thing both sides agree on is the need for a new law. However, demonstrators say it needs to be comprehensive.

"They were caught by the opportunity to work and people here, in this country, took advantage of that, and employers took advantage of it," Chavana Jr. said. "It's not just a one-way street."

Riddle introduced House Bill 49 two years ago during the last legislative session but it gained no traction. She now plans to reintroduce the bill in the next session.

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