Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins recently became the latest Democrat county judge to condemn a new state law to criminalize illegal entry into Texas from a foreign country, claiming the new law will make Dallas County less safe. 

Senate Bill 4 permits Texas law enforcement to arrest and prosecute people who illegally cross the border into the state. 

Jenkins told WFAA that it will have to be enforced by cities and law enforcement agencies because the county is responsible for the jail—which he argues might become too full. 

“So, they might go to a place where it’s well known that the workers are undocumented and scoop up 40 people,” he stated. “And then we’re stuck having to house them in a jail that’s nearly at capacity now, which means that when officers arrest someone for stealing something out of your garage, there may not be room for them.” 

However, House bill sponsor, State Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro), disagreed with Jenkins’ claims. 

“SB 4 has absolutely nothing to do with ‘scooping up’ groups of people that may be undocumented and taking them to jail,” Spiller told Texas Scorecard. 

Spiller explained, “As I have stated on numerous occasions, SB 4 creates the state offense of Illegal Entry, providing the a [sic] person who is an alien commits an offense if the person enters this state from a foreign nation at any location other than a lawful port of entry. This is nothing new.”

He then told Texas Scorecard that what Jenkins was describing was a 2010 Arizona law, which was held to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“SB 4, in my opinion, is completely constitutional because it is not in conflict with Arizona v. United States, it is not preempted by federal law, it is not in conflict with federal law, and Texas has the constitutional right, authority, and ability to protect its borders,” he said. 

Jenkins is not the first Democrat county judge to criticize the new legislation. Last month, several others urged the Biden administration to intervene against SB 4. 

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Travis County Judge Andy Brown, and El Paso County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego sent a letter to President Joe Biden making claims similar to those of Jenkins, that SB 4 will make communities “less safe.” 

However, Spiller states that “SB 4 is the Texas solution to a Texas problem.”

Will Biagini

Will was born in Louisiana and raised in a military family. He currently serves as a journalist with Texas Scorecard. Previously, he was a senior correspondent for Campus Reform.