As the border crisis continues with hundreds of migrants attempting to rush past U.S. law enforcement at an El Paso port of entry last weekend, the Texas House has filed its package of border security legislation.
BREAKING: Our contact in Juarez, MX tells us a massive group of at least 1,000 migrants just attempted to rush a port of entry in El Paso in an effort to get into the United States. Video shows them pushing past the Mexican side of Paso Del Norte bridge. Awaiting CBP comment. pic.twitter.com/lxriIB3TSm
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) March 12, 2023
This latest development comes on the heels of the Texas House filing “must-pass” border security legislation.
- House Bill 6 by State Rep. Craig Goldman (R–Fort Worth) would increase the penalty for manufacturing or delivering less than one gram of fentanyl from a state jail felony to a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- House Bill 7 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City) would establish the Legislative Border Safety Oversight Committee, which would provide recommendations on state border security policies and oversee the Border Protection Unit established by House Bill 20. The committee would be composed of the House speaker, lieutenant governor, and four lawmakers from each chamber. HB 7 would also provide funding for border security.
- House Bill 20 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) would establish the Border Protection Unit, a new unit under the Texas Department of Public Safety that would be headquartered along the border and manage ongoing state border security operations. The chief would be appointed by the governor and report to the Public Safety Commission. Additionally, the local unit would enable DPS troopers, game wardens, and Texas National Guardsmen deployed to the border to eventually return home.
- House Bill 800 by State Rep. Guillen would establish the mandatory minimum sentence for human smuggling convictions at 10 years, and the mandatory minimum sentence for operating a stash house at five years.
- House Bill 1600 by State Rep. Cole Hefner (R–Mount Pleasant) would create a state penalty, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for anyone entering the state at any point other than a legal port of entry.
All of the aforementioned legislation will likely be heard by the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety in the upcoming weeks.
Political consultant and commentator Luke Macias says the effort on border security could be an opportunity for the House to outflank the Senate on conservative policy.
“The Texas House knows that the Senate is in the driver’s seat on most of these policy issues because they actually have a vision and a goal. And you can see it right now … what they’re putting on the agenda, the hearings they’re having, and the votes they’re moving forward with,” Macias said on a recent episode of his podcast. “Immigration is an issue where the Texas House seems to have an opportunity to move to the right of the Senate, and then what the Senate’s response to that will be, we’ll just have to see.”
Meanwhile, the Texas GOP has made securing the border and protecting Texans one of eight legislative priorities for the session.
The 88th Legislative Session ends May 29, 2023.