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Texas state representative camps out for immigration bills

Another sign of the strength of fervor over illegal immigration: A Texas state representative camped out for two days this weekend to submit anti-illegal immigration bills for the next session. State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R) slept on the ground of a lobby outside the floor of the Texas House of Representatives so she could be first to turn in legislation, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Why submit the bills early? Apparently Riddle wants her bills to have low numbers, which denotes importance. The two bills — which would change voter identification laws and immigration enforcement — were given the two lowest numbers available after those reserved for leadership efforts.

Riddle’s first bill, HB 16, would require all voters to show a photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID to vote in Texas. A number of Republican lawmakers have argued for stricter voter identification laws to prevent undocumented immigrants from voting — even though most experts say non-citizen voting rarely happens and a similar law in Arizona was struck down.

“Voter ID has got to be one of the top priorities of the legislature this session.” Riddle told the Chronicle. “It passed in the House two session ago and was stalled by politics in the Senate. It passed in the Senate last year and then was stalled by politics in the House. There are no more excuses left this time around.”

The second bill, HB 17, is a copycat to Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law. Riddle has been pushing for SB 1070-style legislation since well before the Arizona bill was passed, but her bill in 2009 never made it out of committee. Riddle is likely to have significant support from the House leadership for the bill after Republicans won a two-thirds majority in the state House. Rep. Warren Chisum, an ultra-conservative who plans to run for speaker, has said he wants to bring the Arizona law to Texas.

If they succeed, Riddle likely isn’t worried about lawsuits. In 2009, when she introduced a bill to suspend licenses of employers that hire illegal immigrants, she told the Boston Globe, “If we wind up in a legal battle, we wind up in a legal battle. I’m not going to worry about what monster what might be behind a tree and jump at me.”

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