Perry directs state agencies to screen employees

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 3 ordered state agencies to check the employment eligibility of current and prospective employees by using E-Verify, an Internet-based system that allows employers to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. 

Perry also urged Congress to pass legislation “to provide the resources necessary to secure our southern border.” Perry’s announcements come in the wake of President Obama’s executive action on immigration on Nov. 20. At the time, in a national broadcast, Obama said he would take various actions because of the protracted unwillingness of Congress to pass an immigration reform bill that addresses the legal status of millions of undocumented workers employed in Texas and other states by American business owners. A White House news release lists three elements of the president’s executive actions:

1. Cracking down on illegal immigration at the border to increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross illegally will be caught and sent back; continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally last summer; and centralizing border security command-and-control.

2. Deporting felons, not families to focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety; and directing immigration enforcement to place anyone suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members and recent border crossers at the top of the deportation priority list.

3. Accountability through criminal background checks and taxes, to hold accountable those undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Meanwhile, Perry said, “It’s clear now more than ever that Congress must finally pass a bill that dedicates the necessary resources to securing our border, once and for all. Without border security, immigration reform is a fruitless exercise.”

States challenge president

Texas was joined by 16 other states on Dec. 3 in filing a court challenge to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that he announced last month.

Texas Attorney General and governor-elect Greg Abbott, who filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, wrote that the U.S. Constitution’s Take Care Clause “limits the President’s power and ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress’s laws – not rewrite them under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’”

Also claimed is that the Department of Homeland Security’s directive was issued without following the Administrative Procedure Act’s rule-making guidelines and awards “legal benefits to individuals whose conduct contradicts the priorities of Congress.”

States joining Texas in the lawsuit are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Task force issues report

Gov. Perry on Dec. 4 announced the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response has issued a 174-page report regarding the state’s capabilities to prepare for and respond to infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus and other emerging pathogens.

Examples of the report’s findings and recommendations:

  • Education of diverse health care professionals is essential for the initial identification, assessment, triage, care and isolation of patients with Ebola or other uncommon but high-consequence infectious diseases.
  • Consideration should be given to the care, monitoring and disposition of domestic animals, especially pets.
  • The state and external partners should develop a “mobile app” for real-time collection and monitoring of temperature and symptom data.
  • Establishment of bio-containment treatment facilities and a pediatric unit specializing in the care of infants and children with Ebola and other high consequence infectious diseases.

Former Senate secretary dies

Betty King, who served as secretary of the Texas Senate from 1977 to 2001, died Dec. 1 in Austin. She was 89.

First hired as a House Appropriations Committee clerk in 1947, her patience, grace and unflappability were soon known and long appreciated, until her retirement in 2001.

Plans are for a private burial in the Texas State Cemetery.

Kolkorst wins Senate runoff

State Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, last week won the runoff election for the Senate District 18 seat and will succeed Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who was elected state comptroller in the November general election.

Kolkhorst, who chairs the House Public Health committee, has served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives since 2001.

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