National Domestic Workers Alliance
Statement on Texas HB 2012
March 7, 2011
The “carve out” of domestic employers in a recent anti-immigrant bill in Texas affirms an American truth that domestic workers have known all along. HB 2012, A bill introduced by Texas State Representative and Tea Party member Debbie Riddle (R-150), would make it a felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or 180 days in prison) to knowingly hire an immigrant not authorized to work in the United States, except in the case of a person hired to perform household duties such as babysitting, house cleaning, or lawn mowing.
Domestic work - caring for the home, for children, for the elderly, sick and disabled - is important work. Domestic workers are an essential part of households across the country, and help make it possible for their employers to do the work they do. In fact, millions of American families count on domestic workers to meet their basic daily needs. They are integral to the social and economic fabric of this country.
Despite this important role, domestic workers are excluded from most major labor laws and workplace protections. For generations, the failure to recognize and protect this workforce has created an unruly, unsafe and highly exploitative environment for domestic workers. This domestic employer “exemption” reinforces the existing exclusions of domestic workers from labor protections. Once again, unscrupulous domestic employers are off the hook, free to take advantage of vulnerable workers who are fearful of asserting their rights.
Repressive employer sanctions laws do not address anyone's concerns. Rather, in recognition of the integral role domestic workers play in the economy, the Texas state legislature should introduce legislation to extend labor protections to domestic workers in Texas, whose significance to Texan families was made clear by this proposal. And, we should consider whether domestic workers are any different from other immigrants. Immigrants live and pray in our communities; they work in our schools and hospitals. They are an integral part of our communities and families. Our lives are interdependent. And our futures are connected. The sooner Representative Riddle understands this, the better she will serve her constituents.