This article has been updated since publication.

As the ongoing border crisis worsens, some Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature want the state to take control of the situation from the Biden administration.

In 2023, two measures were filed in an effort to enforce border security: House Bill 20, or the Border Protection Unit Act, which sought to create a border security force within the Texas Department of Public Safety; and House Bill 1491, also known as the Texas Title 42 Act, which would have used the state’s police powers to remove illegal aliens from Texas.

Both measures were killed in the Texas House.

The one measure that did eventually pass was Senate Bill 4 in the fourth special legislative session. It makes illegal entry a state crime that results in removal. However, the law has been placed on hold as it moves through the courts.

Nevertheless, the crisis continues as just last week the Texas National Guard faced riots by hundreds of illegal border crossers as the guardsmen tried to repair a break in the fencing.

Texas Scorecard contacted all of the Republican candidates running in the runoff election for House and Senate seats to ask what more they believe Texas should do to combat the border crisis.

Senate District 30

Brent Hagenbuch: “We need to do more. No more waiting or hesitating for the Federal government in any way whatsoever.  Although I hate spending more taxpayers’ money, this is one place we need to do whatever it takes – build more walls, buoys, razor-wire, manpower, and technology to fully secure the border. We need to find savings elsewhere in the budget to pay for it. We need to fully utilize SB4 and if it’s overturned by Biden’s liberal courts then we need to write and re-write the law until we get one that sticks so our law enforcement can arrest and deport illegals, not just at the border. This has gone on too long. Thousands of Texans have been murdered by illegal aliens, and hundreds of thousands have been victims of violent crimes. Our families are not safe. Illegal aliens should be removed from Texas. All incentives, government assistance, etc. should end and the border should be completely secured.”

Jace Yarbrough: “SB4 was a small step toward enabling our state to fight the border invasion. But to get serious about fighting this invasion, we must create a Texas Border Protection Unit that can arrest and deport illegal crossers at scale and construct barriers to stop them. We should also end magnets like in-state tuition for illegals and mandate e-verify for employers, or the invasion will only accelerate.”

House District 1

Chris Spencer: “The state of Texas should fully appropriate any and all funds necessary to finish the border wall.  It will be easier if Donald Trump is elected President in November.  Short of that happening, as a newly elected legislator, I will approve spending whatever is necessary to secure our border, including additional enforcement personnel to apprehend and arrest those who cross over the wall. Texas is being invaded, and we should use any and all measures to successfully secure our border.”

State Rep. Gary VanDeaver did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 12

Ben Bius: “As State Representative, I will work to further secure our border, disrupt, and discourage illegal immigration by introducing legislation to: 1. To make human trafficking a capital offense with a life imprisonment or death penalty sentence. 2. To make the trafficking of dangerous narcotics from a foreign nation resulting in death, a capital offense. 3. To make the possession of a deadly weapon by a foreign national prohibited and a felony offense. 4. To establish a permanent Texas Border Security Force stationed on our Southern Border to protect Texas, not federal interests, and to construct permanent Texas National Guard Camps in strategic locations to support its mission.”

Trey Wharton: “First, the border wall started by President Trump must be fully funded and completed. I stand with Governor Abbott in using any and all available state assets and personnel to repel this invasion. We must immediately deport illegals who cross into Texas under state authority, long before they ever have the chance to disappear into the American heartland. Additionally, I will support legislation to end incentives like in-state tuition for illegals as well.”

House District 21

David Covey: “Joe Biden has allowed drugs, human traffickers, and suspected terrorists to flow into our country, unobstructed. My opponent, House Speaker Dade Phelan, was the only Republican in the Texas Legislature not to vote for SB4, and he killed HB 20 which would have established a much-needed border protection unit. His lack of leadership on border security is one of the many reasons why former President Donald Trump endorsed me in the race for Texas House District 21.”

Speaker Dade Phelan did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 29

Jeffrey Barry: “I will continue to support Gov Abbott, as I have always done, in securing and strengthening our border through creating the Texas Border Force, securing more funding to hire more DPS officers and Border Patrol Agents, and deporting. The border is in complete chaos as I have witnessed when I visited Shelby Park in Eagle Pass just 2 weeks ago. It is shameful and embarrassing to see what President Biden has done to the residents of our border towns, schools, and the Texas Department of Health and Human Resources. Our Federal Government should reimburse Texans for the expense of doing their job.”

Alex Kamkar: “Build more obstacle belts that are integrated into the natural ecosystem to deter illegal entry. Deploy troops to Central America for interdiction efforts and regional stabilization efforts. Establish a permanent joint American task force that will train, live, and interdict along the border.”

House District 30

AJ Louderback: “As an advisor to President Trump and his Administration on border policy, I strongly support using state assets and personnel to construct the border wall and defend the Rio Grande from future illegal crossings. Every illegal crossing is a crime, and these criminal aliens must be deported at the first available opportunity after they are apprehended. We must also crack down on entities that are funding or incentivizing these migrant waves and end state incentives like in-state tuition for illegals.”

Jeff Bauknight did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 33

Katrina Pierson: “Texas must continue to lead the way on border security by actively repelling illegal crossers, arresting and deporting illegal immigrants under state authority, and standing up a permanent state border patrol unit. I will be a strong ally for Governor Abbott as we continue to redefine what state-led border security looks like.”

State Rep. Justin Holland did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 44

Alan Schoolcraft: “First, the fact that my opponent John Kuempel is patting himself on the back for passing border security funding is a farce.  In reality, Kuempel helped kill border security bills and dragged his feet on the issue until the 11th hour. I will prioritize real solutions like implementing E-Verify to protect Texas jobs, rapid DNA tests at the border to identify and apprehend human traffickers and coyotes, and a unit specifically dedicated, trained and resourced to protect the border. I also commend Governor Abbott for his efforts to successfully demonstrate to liberal states and the Biden Administration the burden that even a small influx of illegal immigrants can create.”

State Rep. John Kuempel did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 58

Helen Kerwin: “I am honored to have been endorsed by the National Border Patrol Union for my unwavering commitment to fight Biden’s border disaster and stop the mass illegal immigration.  We not only need to continue building border walls and barriers, but we need to pass further legislation like the Texas Border Protection Unit which was killed last year by Speaker Dade Phelan and his Democrat Parliamentarian. The Texas Border Protection Unit would create an entirely new unit to identify, apprehend, and deport illegal immigrants while taking pressure off our overused Texas National Guard.”

State Rep. DeWayne Burns did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 61

Keresa Richardson: “In order to protect Texas citizens from the invasion at our southern border Texas should: 1) Use law enforcement and military to seal the border and deport illegal aliens.  2) Establish a Texas Border Unit to address public safety threats by transnational criminal activity. 3) End all subsidies and public services for illegal aliens.”

State Rep. Frederick Frazier did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 64

Andy Hopper: “Texas should pass 88R/HB20 or preferably a similar bill that expands the Texas Military Forces from 25,000 to at least 50,000 troops, creating a permanent force assigned to the southern border. The Texas Legislature should require the Governor to provide suitable rules of engagement to deter and repel all illegal border crossings and authorize the use of force against cartels. Further, the State of Texas should secure operational control over the entire border by condemning all federal land along the border, and prevent access to the border by any federal authorities who would otherwise aid and assist the flow of illegals into the United States.”

State Rep. Lynn Stucky did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 91

David Lowe: “The border crisis is an invasion that, if not stopped immediately, will destroy the United States. The first steps to ending the invasion include: 1. Creating a Texas border protection force 2. Use of force policy to repel the invasion 3. Seize all Mexico-owned assets in Texas 4. Halt all inbound commercial traffic on Texas highways from Mexico.”

State Rep. Stephanie Klick did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 97

Cheryl Bean: “The combination of the insurgent threat, the fentanyl deaths, the human trafficking, and the economic impact of the millions of illegal immigrants combine to make the border crisis the most significant threat facing America today. We must stop the infiltration through all means available including physical barriers, use of all manpower forces at the governor’s disposal, arrest and deportation of illegals already on American soil, and the removal of all incentives to discourage further immigration. I am leading a group of candidates down to the border on April 3rd so we may see and hear first-hand from local law enforcement, border control, businesses, and residents on the current status and their recommendations on what needs to be done to resolve the situation.”

John McQueeny: “As someone who has lived and run a business on the border, I understand the disastrous consequences of an open border firsthand. First, we must elect President Trump and complete the wall. Next, we must continue to provide additional technology and manpower along the border and we must continue to pass and enforce laws like Senate Bill 4 which allows Texas law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants. We must also continue to give our Judges greater authority to deport illegal aliens. A truly secure border is the ultimate goal. We should not entertain any conversation about reforming our system until the border is 100% closed.”

Amelia McKenzie

Amelia is a senior at Liberty University in Virginia. She is studying Digital Journalism and is currently a fellow with Texas Scorecard.