Saying that the urgency of the border crisis “cannot be overstated,” Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton of Conroe is pushing for the state to do more to push back against the invasion.
As part of this effort, Creighton brought two pieces of legislation before the Senate Committee on Border Security Thursday.
Senate Committee Resolution 29 would declare an invasion of Texas by transnational cartel terrorists, urge the governor to accelerate the construction of a wall along the southern border, and urge Congress to deploy military forces to combat transnational cartels.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw told the committee three things are needed to secure the border:
You do need infrastructure––wall, fence, whatever––you need something … that will allow you to slow down the movement between the ports of entry and give you the opportunity to detect and interdict that which comes through, underneath, or over. … But you still need technology. You still need boots on the ground, in the brush, on the roadway, in the air, on the river. So, it’s not just one thing. It’s a combination of three things.
April Salazar testified in favor of SCR 29, telling the committee her story of being kidnapped by the cartels:
In 2011, I lived in Memphis, Texas. I was kidnapped by the Los Zetas. I was taken to Laredo, where I was tattooed––marked as their property, beaten, raped. I see horrendous things that happened in the local bodega that they took me to, that I stayed three months in and Miguel Trevino [leader of the Los Zetas] happened to come through on the third month and I was nice looking and [he] wanted me to be his new girlfriend. So, he took me to [his home] Nuevo Laredo, where I stayed another three months until he decided, ‘Well, I needed a second wife.’ More tattoos got put on me. More torture. Three months later, he was planning our wedding. I was gonna be his second wife. We went to a little restaurant in Nuevo Laredo called Casa Blanca where he was making preparations for our wedding. It was a window––the first time I had never had a security detail. I broke the window and got out of there and I ran all the way to Laredo, Texas––wasn’t very far … maybe three quarters of a mile, but I ran all the way.
“When everybody says that this border wall is expensive, I have a question: What price do you pay them for a life?” said Salazar. “Because the first six years after this happened, I was a prisoner in my own home, afraid to go out. I’m afraid it would happen again––even though Miguel Trevino was incarcerated for life in 2013. My life ended also because I was a prisoner for the next six years until I decided to speak out.”
Melissa Ford Maldonado, policy director for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, also testified in favor of SCR 29, explaining that what’s happening on the border does meet the definition of an invasion.
“A Mexican cartel that opposes the sovereignty of lawful authorities in the U.S., by reason of its criminal activities and enters animated by that purpose, is an invader,” said Ford Maldonado. “They not only meet the criteria of entry and enmity, they qualify as both for non-state actors because they’re a criminal conspiracy and also as a foreign state, since there’s irrefutable evidence of a partnership between the Mexican government and the Mexican cartel.”
Jaime Puente, director of economic opportunity for Every Texan, opposed SCR 29, asking that “we stop using these highly inflammatory words like ‘invasion,’” and says “deterrence does not work.”
“We [are] talking about spending another $4.4 billion on what I call a boondoggle operation,” said Puente.
Senate Bill 1481 would allow Texas to exercise its powers of eminent domain to build a wall along the Texas-Mexico border.
According to Creighton, “equipping the state with explicit authority to utilize eminent domain for constructing the Texas border wall … [and] will allow the state of Texas bargaining power and leverage for the procurement of land as the most optimal locations for a wall along the border.”
“Texas has successfully erected wall segments on approximately 30 miles of border property, but has nearly depleted the funds allocated for the border wall. And although immensely important, acquiring land and constructing a wall is costly and time consuming. But as a result of this bill, Texas would be able to stretch this session’s border wall allocation further, allowing it to acquire more land at a more expedient rate,” explained Creighton.
Multiple senators raised concerns about using eminent domain to take land from border residents for the construction of a wall.
Taylor Trevino testified against SB 1481, stating, “The facts are that the government has already used eminent domain to seize land for a border wall and people are not compensated even close to [what it’s worth] if they’re paid at all.”
However, Bob Green argued that the situation calls for extreme measures, stating, “We are a nation of laws. When people fail to follow the law with impunity, it encourages further disobedience and breeds disrespect for the rule of law. And that is not America.”
Both pieces of legislation were left pending before the committee.