As the summer heats up and illegal border-crossers continue pouring over the Texas-Mexico border, the Texas Legislature has passed a measure to increase criminal penalties for human smuggling and operating stash houses.
Indeed, vast damages continue resulting from smuggling pursuits—with one recently ending with a crash into a U.S. Border Patrol station.
House Bill 2 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City) creates mandatory minimum sentences for operating stash houses and human smuggling, and it increases penalties when these crimes are committed under a disaster declaration.
However, border advocates, officials, and residents are all saying this isn’t nearly enough to combat the crisis.
“While I agree that there is a need for having stronger penalties for those caught smuggling, it’s important to understand that having stronger penalties doesn’t prevent or decrease the number of criminal illegals that are illegally crossing over our Texas border,” Alison Anderson, a border resident, told Texas Scorecard.
“For my family, dealing with smugglers and smuggling is something we have to face on a regular basis here,” said Alison. “My family has already experienced having DPS smuggling pursuits end on our property—with DPS units speeding up our driveway and the helicopter hovering overtop our house, as troopers ran through our yard on foot after the fleeing smuggler and illegals ran into the brush behind our house.”
Alison’s husband, a U.S. Border Patrol agent with EMS training, is regularly called to the scene of deadly smuggling operations, including a recent pursuit that ended with multiple deaths after a pickup truck wrecked at a high speed and flipped multiple times.
“My husband was one of the first on scene, where three illegals died that day as a result of injuries sustained from this wreck,” said Alison. “One of the illegals died on my husband’s backboard as he and other first responders were carrying him out of the brush to the awaiting life-flight helicopter.”
While Alison praised the hard work of Texas Department of Public Safety officers and thanked Gov. Greg Abbott for sending them, she says there has to be more.
“Regardless of the smuggling penalties here in the U.S., those penalties won’t stop the bodies crossing illegally from Mexico and into Texas,” said Alison. “I’m not sure that I could possibly ever find the words to fully describe what life is like trying to raise our family on the border. But one thing I am sure of is that Texas families, much like my own, are fed up with being forced to continue to endure the constant harassment, damages, destruction, and violent assaults from illegals.”
“We are tired of our elected officials coming to our communities promising change, only to return back to their comfy air-conditioned offices and follow through with zero action! Texans want to see immediate and tangible solutions happening right now—today—in Texas!” emphasized Alison.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick commented on the Texas Senate’s passage of HB 2, as well as two other potential border security measures that are currently outside the scope of the governor’s special session call and unlikely to move forward because the Texas House has left Austin:
The Texas Senate is in Austin working diligently to address the priorities of Texans, including these critical bills. The Senate will pass these bills over and over again in every special session until the Texas House returns from their vacation.
Lawmakers failed to pass meaningful border security legislation during the regular legislative session, leaving the governor to include a limited border security priority in the ongoing special session (which is expected to be the first of several).
To learn more about the crisis at the border, click here.
Concerned citizens can contact their state officials using Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory.