Saturday, March 18, 2023

Texas House Unveils Bill Giving State Authority to “repel” and Return Migrants Crossing from Mexico; Texas Files Bills to Remove Migrants Crossing Border, Stiff Prison Terms for Re-Entry

Verónica G. Cárdenas for ProPublica/The Texas Tribune
House unveils bill giving state authority to “repel” and return migrants crossing from Mexico"
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan threw his support behind a striking border security bill that would create a state unit of officers empowered to “repel” and arrest migrants crossing the border outside a port of entry and return migrants to Mexico if they were seen trying to illegally cross the border.
House Bill 20, the priority legislation filed by state Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, would certainly test the boundaries of the state’s ability to enforce immigration law, which courts have historically ruled falls under federal purview.And in a signal that the upper chamber is also willing to test the bounds of the state’s immigration enforcement authority, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate, announced he was backing Senate legislation that would make it a state crime for people who cross into Texas illegally. The Senate bill, proposed by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, would jail a person for a year or two years if the person tried to enter the country a second time. The proposal would also punish the person to life in prison if they had been previously convicted of a felony.
Currently, under federal law, a person arrested for entering the country without permission could be charged with a misdemeanor. If Border Patrol agents arrest them a second time, the person could be charged with a felony and be banned from entering the country for a certain amount of years.
Schaefer’s House bill creates a “Border Protection Unit” whose officers can “arrest, detain, and deter individuals crossing the border illegally including with the use of non-deadly force.” The bill says the officers of the unit must be U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents, or have law enforcement experience. The bill also proposes to give officers in this unit immunity “from criminal and civil liability for any actions taken that are authorized” by the proposed law. The bill also says the unit chief could employ civilians who have not been convicted of a felony “to participate in unit operations and functions, but such persons may not have arresting authority unless trained and specifically authorized by the governor.”
Roberto Lopez, senior advocacy manager for the beyond borders program at the Texas Civil Rights Project, called Schaefer’s bill the “most dangerous proposal we have ever seen on border issues.”
“A new military force under Gov. Greg Abbott, potentially staffed by vigilantes deputized as law enforcement authorities, will provide no protection to border communities whatsoever,” Lopez said. “Trying to solve what is fundamentally a humanitarian crisis with a full-frontal military response shows a reckless disregard for the safety of the people in our state and a fundamental misunderstanding of the root causes of the issues at our border.” --->READ MORE HERE
File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
Texas Files Bills to Remove Migrants Crossing Border, Stiff Prison Terms for Re-Entry:
The Texas Legislature is set to push the limits of the State’s authority to enforce immigration laws and increase border security. Two bills filed this session provide for the removal of migrants illegally entering the U.S. between ports of entry and call for stiff prison sentences for re-entering after removal.
A Texas Legislator filed a bill aimed at expanding the State’s authority to remove migrants who illegally cross the border between ports of entry and return them to Mexico. A bill filed in the Texas Senate provides stiff penalties for illegally re-entering Texas after being removed.
Texas State Representative Matt Schaffer (R-Tyler) filed House Bill 20 on March 10. The bill calls for the creation of a new law enforcement department called the “Border Protection Unit” (BPU).
The bill grants the BPU officers (commissioned law enforcement officers) the authority to “deter and repel” migrants attempting to illegally enter the State of Texas outside of a port of entry. It also allows BPU officers to “return aliens to Mexico who have been observed actually crossing the Mexican Border illegally, and were apprehended or detained in the immediate vicinity of the border.”
These powers are granted “to the extent consistent with the United States and Texas constitutions and federal immigration laws,” the bill states.
Schaffer’s bill is one of seven border security bills identified by House Speaker Dade Phelan as legislative priorities for the House on Friday. In a statement released by the speaker, Phelan’s staff wrote: --->read more here
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