AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas House has voted to require oil and gas firms to step up efforts to refrain from employing people in the country illegally.
Tuesday's 97-46 vote mandates that energy companies use E-verify, a program which lets employers check employees' legal status. The rule was included in a larger bill regulating the Railroad Commission, which oversees Texas' oil and gas industry.
The Legislature is expected to pass a separate, sweeping measure punishing so-called "sanctuary cities," where local authorities don't help the federal government enforce immigration policy.
Democrats argue that Texas is targeting immigrants while ignoring industries employing them — and the proposed E-verify rule drew surprisingly strong bipartisan support.
The full Railroad Commission regulation bill cleared the House but still needs Senate approval, meaning the E-verify provision may not survive.