One West Texas lawmaker has made plans with the Texas Senate to fix his bill after House Democrats inserted a poison-pill amendment giving welfare benefits to children illegally trafficked across the southern border.

Last week, Texas House lawmakers voted on and approved House Bill 888 by State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R–Odessa), a measure designed to help prevent the smuggling and trafficking of children at the border by making it a criminal offense to falsely identify a child as a family member when traveling into the U.S.

If passed as filed, the legislation would grant Texas law enforcement much-needed tools to assist federal immigration authorities in stopping human trafficking. Unfortunately, Landgraf accepted the Democrat’s amendment to water down the measure, at which time no Republicans objected.

On third reading of the bill, Landgraf accepted an amendment by State Rep. Terry Canales (D–Edinburg) to grant Medicaid benefits to children illegally trafficked across the border.

“Mr. Canales sends up an amendment. It is acceptable to the author. Is there any objection? The chair hears none; the amendment is adopted,” said State Rep. Craig Goldman (R–Fort Worth) who was presiding over the Texas House at the time.

The gavel was swung and the Canales amendment was attached to Landgraf’s legislation, which quickly thereafter passed by a vote of 94-46.

After Texas Scorecard published an article detailing how the amendment affected HB 888, lawmakers issued statements explaining they intended to vote against the legislation.

“We supported the bill until the Canales amendment that added Medicaid for illegal immigrants was adopted. We don’t want any taxpayer money appropriated to illegal immigrants,” reads a statement added to the House Journal by State Reps. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) and Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington).

After the passage of HB 888, Landgraf released the following statement to Texas Scorecard:

I disagree with the Canales amendment, but because I believe in the anti-human trafficking and pro-border security mission of H.B. 888 and wanted to keep the bill alive, I accepted the amendment and immediately after passage made plans with the Senate sponsor of the bill to strip the Canales amendment. Like many other Republicans, I registered a ‘no’ vote on the Canales amendment.”

The legislation has now been received by the Senate, where the bill was referred to the Committee on State Affairs. Landgraf says the bad amendment will be stripped before passage and concurrence of the final bill.

Matt Stringer

Matthew Stringer is from Odessa, TX and serves as a West Texas Correspondent for Texas Scorecard.

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