The Texas legislature is moving on to enact a new immigration bill that could lead to the creation of a border wall.
The Texas Tribune reports the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 486, which is the result of an extensive public comment process.
The bill would set the minimum wage for undocumented workers at $12 per hour.
It also would give a tax credit to companies that hire undocumented workers, expand the scope of the state’s H-2B visa program, and allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for a state-subsidized private school.
The legislation has already passed the House, but will now go to the Senate for consideration.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill on Friday, although the Texas Tribune says that the measure has received overwhelming support.
The idea of a wall is not new, but the bill is a major step forward for the state, which has seen a surge of illegal border crossings.
The current law prohibits employers from hiring undocumented workers and requires them to provide health insurance, which means employers are forced to pay for health care, including health insurance premiums for their employees.
“The Senate has now passed a bill that makes clear that Texans have a right to work,” said Texas Federation of Teachers President Ray Martinez in a statement.
“This bill is designed to protect Texans from having to pay high prices for healthcare.
It is time for lawmakers to start listening to the people who are struggling to make ends meet, not the special interests who stand to make billions off of them.”
In a statement, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the bill “prohibits companies from using H-1B visa holders to replace U.S. workers, creates new barriers to legal immigration, and provides an incentive for companies to leave Texas.”
A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said, “The bill does nothing to protect the safety or security of Texans and does nothing for undocumented immigrants who are currently in the United States illegally.
It does nothing that can protect workers who are in the country illegally and is designed in such a way that it encourages employers to move to the states that offer the lowest wages, the least benefits, and the highest taxes.”
The bill was passed by the state Senate in November, but was vetoed by Gov.
Greg Abbott in February.
A federal judge later blocked the law from taking effect.