Lawmakers in the Texas House passed a bill on Thursday that would allow local police to arrest illegal immigrants and deport them, the latest measure taken by the Lone Star state as it grapples with a border crisis that state leaders say is being ignored by the feds.
The bill, called H.B.4, makes it a criminal offense for anyone who isn’t a U.S. citizen or national to enter the United States anywhere besides a lawful point of entry.
The measure would also allow local law enforcement to arrest anyone caught violating this illegal entry prohibition and deport them.
It passed by a vote of 84–60 and it now heads to the Senate, where there’s strong support for the Republican push to bolster border security.
“It is a humane, logical, and efficient approach,” Texas State Rep. David Spiller, a Republican, said while introducing the bill before the vote. “There is nothing unfair about ordering someone back from where they came if they arrived here illegally.”
A number of Texas Democrats opposed the border security measures, with State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, a Democrat from Dallas, expressing concern that the arrest bill would lead to detentions of U.S. citizens who don’t have proof of citizenship handy.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also came out in opposition, calling the bills “anti-immigrant” and claiming links between some politicians who advocated for them and “white supremacists.”
“The Texas legislature can’t override federal immigration laws and replace them with outlandish schemes of its own invention,” Anand Balakrishnan, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU, said in a statement.
“Today’s actions try to do exactly that—and to guarantee that citizens and non-citizens will be subjected to racial profiling and harassment in the bargain. This is an ignorant and dangerous move,” he added.
Border Wall Funding Boost
Another border security bill that was passed on Thursday, H.B.6, boosted funding by an additional $1.5 billion for a Trump-style border wall in Texas.
“The legislation we passed today will play a crucial role in our state’s ongoing efforts to secure the border,” said State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, according to a statement issued by his office.
“The state must act when the lives and property of Texans are at stake, so I’m proud of the work we’ve done here today, but I’ve got to be honest, I’m sick and tired of Texas having to clean up Biden’s messes,” he added.
Republicans have blamed President Joe Biden and his policies for fueling the tidal wave of illegal immigration, with the passage of the bills coming on the heels of data showing that the number of illegal border crossings in September hit a record high for a single month.
A third bill was passed Thursday that increases penalties for human smuggling and stash house operations, raising the penalty for human smuggling to a 10-year mandatory sentence.
The bills now head to the Senate—and later to the desk of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—who praised their passage in a post on X.
Mr. Abbott, who has repeatedly criticized the Biden administration for failing to secure the border, called the special legislative session that eventually led to the border security bills to be passed on Thursday.
“Texas will use every tool available to respond,” he said in a post on X, in which he announced the calling of the special legislative session.
Frustrated by the tidal wave of illegal immigration, the impacts of which disproportionately affect Texas communities, Mr. Abbott has increasingly been taking matters into his own hands.
Border Security in Focus
In 2021, he launched a multiagency effort called Operation Lone Star to help stem the flow of illegal border crossers into Texas and later ordered a border wall to be built along the portion of the U.S.–Mexico border that runs through his state.
“Biden abandoned his constitutional duty to secure the border, so Texas stepped up to respond,” Mr. Abbott said in an Oct. 25 update on X, showing a section under construction in Cameron County.
More recently, Mr. Abbott called the special session in the state Legislature to take up the border security bills.
“Thank you @GovAbbott for the opportunity to carry HB4, a landmark bill—the only one of its kind in the nation—that allows Texans to protect Texas, especially when the Biden administration fails and refuses to do so,” Mr. Spiller said in a post on X.
Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for cutting concertina wire barriers that Texas officials have placed along the southern border to deter illegal crossings.
Earlier this year, Border Patrol agents were caught on video cutting through razor wire and holding the fencing aside to let a group of illegal immigrants cross the border into Texas.
Mr. Abbott said in a Thursday post on X that, as the lawsuit winds its way through the courts, members of the Texas National Guard have been deployed to turn back people trying to cross the border.
“The Texas National Guard continues turning back migrants attempting to illegally enter Texas. Soldiers are deployed all along the border to detect and repel illegal border crossings,” he wrote, while sharing footage of the guardsmen in action.
The Texas National Guard continues turning back migrants attempting to illegally enter Texas.
Soldiers are deployed all along the border to detect and repel illegal border crossings. pic.twitter.com/ux1GVj1Kex
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 26, 2023
Recent data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show that 269,735 people were caught in September crossing the U.S.–Mexico border illegally.
That’s the highest number ever recorded in a single month.
Since President Biden took office, CBP agents have arrested more than 7 million people crossing the border illegally between ports of entry.
The border crisis is increasingly becoming a political weight on President Biden, dragging down his approval ratings.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post survey shows that 71 percent of Americans disapprove of the way he’s handling immigration and the situation at the U.S.–Mexico border.
From The Epoch Times