Following lawmakers’ failure to pass meaningful border security legislation, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has included border security in his call for a special session of the state Legislature.
Abbott specifically asked for “legislation solely for the purpose of increasing or enhancing the penalties for certain criminal conduct involving the smuggling of persons or the operation of a stash house.”
Either House Bill 800 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City) or Senate Bill 600 by State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury) would have fulfilled these requirements, if either had passed during the regular legislative session. HB 800 passed both the House and the Senate but was killed by a parliamentary procedure in the House. SB 600 passed the Senate but never received a hearing in the House.
However, according to Texans for Strong Borders President Chris Russo, “enhancing penalties for human smuggling alone will not solve the crisis facing our state and nation, particularly in the aftermath of Title 42 and the Biden administration’s abuse of humanitarian parole and the CBP One app.”
Several other border security measures addressing different facets of the crisis failed to gain traction in the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature—which is why Russo and other grassroots advocates are calling for the governor to widen his call and include other meaningful border security legislation.
“We applaud Governor Abbott’s call for a special session,” said Russo. “But enhanced penalties on human smuggling alone are not enough to stem the tide of millions of illegal aliens entering our state. We urge him to widen the call to include repelling the invasion at our border, mandating E-Verify for employers, finishing the Texas border wall, and ending taxpayer handouts to illegal aliens. The future of Texas depends on it.”
Kelly Perry, State Republican Executive Committeewoman and chair of the GOP Legislative Priority Committee on Border Security, told Texas Scorecard, “The border crisis has been going on for two years. Things have changed but only gotten worse since it exploded with the influx of people pouring in from around the world. We have had two years to evaluate the problem. Yet when we came together to make some strong decisions and change the laws, we were not ready?”
Perry championed legislation like House Bill 20 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), which sought to create a border security force within the Texas Department of Public Safety. HB 20 was killed by Republicans, added haphazardly to another border measure (House Bill 7), changed by the Senate to better reflect the needs of border communities, and then failed to make it out of the House and Senate conference committee before the session ended.
“To most citizens, the border crisis is the most pressing problem we have experienced in history,” said Perry, a border county resident. “It’s destroying our state. And we’re not ready? We still aren’t ready with bills to make the most difference?”
It is such a serious thing to be thrown together with Band-Aids and hope they stick. It is sad for a strong state such as Texas to handle the worst war on our soil with weak decisions.
Although the Texas House is moving quickly to pass House Bill 2 (similar to HB 800 from the regular session) to the Texas Senate, advocates are saying there is still much to be done on the issue of border security and safety for Texans.