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  • Writer's pictureNorman Adams

Governor Abbott, Include This Provision in Your Executive Order to Restart the Economy

I certainly felt blessed when Governor Abbott deemed insurance an essential industry in his March 31st executive order. Thankfully, our construction clients were deemed essential as well.

As my good friend and co-founder of TxSIP Stan Marek recently pointed out, the governor’s order means there are thousands of undocumented workers in construction and other critical industries in Texas who are now considered essential. Since these workers will also be essential for restarting our economy, TxSIP has a provision that we recommend Governor Abbott include in his upcoming executive order.

“Some bristle at labeling construction workers as essential because many of them are undocumented. With Houston’s undocumented population running between 600,000 and 700,000, it’s likely that trades like construction, landscaping, elder care, utility work, highway work, farm workers, and others, have workers who are both essential and undocumented…”
“Mobility for essential workers will become more critical as we attempt to rebuild our economy. Those of us who lived through Hurricane Harvey should remember who participated in the cleanup and rebuild of our city — mucking out houses, tearing out wet sheetrock, hauling off trash, and other “dirty jobs” that no one else wanted to do. Where would we have been without these essential workers…”

Well said! And mobility for Texas’ essential workers means providing a method for undocumented immigrants to obtain conditional driver permits!

At the state level, we have long advocated for policy to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain conditional driver permits. Back in 2013, Republican Representative Byron Cook sponsored a bill that would have done just that.

Fifteen states and DC already allow undocumented immigrants to obtain some kind of driver permit. Why shouldn’t Texas be the sixteenth?

The fact is, with or without a permit, undocumented workers are driving in Texas, many of them without insurance.

Without a method for undocumented immigrants in Texas to obtain conditional driver permits, business owners are subjected to punitive damages if one of their employees gets into a car accident. DPS refuses to renew their licenses because they’re not legal or their visa has expired, but they don’t tell their employer. If that worker runs somebody over on the job, the employer is going to be subject to punitive damages that will likely be denied by their insurance company.

Governor Abbott is going to issue an executive order Friday that will detail his strategy to restart the Texas economy. His executive order should include a provision for undocumented immigrants in Texas to obtain conditional driver permits.

It should require that they prove knowledge of English and the ability to read and understand the rules of the road and pass background checks. It would be self-supporting with fees going to the state, and it would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase legitimate insurance. It would not allow them to vote or to board an airplane!

Please contact Governor Abbott and G. Brint Ryan, Chairman of the Texas Task Force to Restart the Economy, and ask them to include conditional driver permits for undocumented immigrants in Texas in their upcoming executive order.

God bless America, and may he help keep us healthy and reopen our economy soon.​


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