Significant border security measures are not among the hundreds of new Texas laws taking effect.
On September 1, roughly 800 new laws took effect in Texas. However, only six are even tangentially related to the ongoing border crisis.
- Senate Bill 602 by State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) empowers federal Border Patrol agents to enforce Texas laws once trained by the state.
- Senate Bill 1133 by State Sen. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) creates a landowner compensation program for some of the criminal activity harming border residents’ property.
- Senate Bill 1403 by State Sen. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) authorizes the governor to pursue an interstate compact for border security with other states to share intelligence and resources as well as to build a border wall.
- Senate Bill 1484 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) provides border operations training to peace officers employed by local law enforcement.
- Senate Bill 1900 by Birdwell allows Mexican drug cartels to be designated as foreign terrorist organizations and adds them to the organized crime statute under state law. It will increase the tools available to law enforcement and prosecutors to apprehend and prevent illegal cartel activity.
- House Bill 4635 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City) creates new penalties for organized crime by targeting their finances.
Despite the efforts of many citizens during the regular legislative session, House Bill 20—the landmark border security legislation creating a state-level Border Protection Unit—was killed by Republicans. A defanged version was added to another border measure (House Bill 7), which was changed by the Senate, and ultimately failed to make it out of the House and Senate conference committee before the regular session ended.
The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature failed to pass several other border security measures addressing different facets of the border crisis.
Kelly Perry, State Republican Executive Committeewoman and chair of the GOP Legislative Priority Committee on Border Security, told Texas Scorecard that without further legislative action, “We will never have our cities back, or our schools and hospitals. Crime will continue to rise. We just never seem to get ahead of this war we have found ourselves in.”
Perry highlighted the impact of new laws in Florida:
Florida has stopped the NGO [Non-governmental Organization] buses, they put E-Verify into effect, they are making hospitals keep track of illegals and medical care, they have slowed down the money for free housing, etc. I truly cannot understand why Florida can do this and not us? Are Floridians more important to their legislators than Texans are to ours?
Florida passed legislation earlier this year that mandates the use of E-Verify for employers with 25 or more employees and imposes penalties for those who employ illegal aliens. Although similar legislation was proposed in the Texas Legislature, Republican senators blocked the measure.
Additionally, Florida’s legislation reportedly enhances penalties for human smuggling (which Texas failed to pass in both the regular and first special session), prohibits local governments from issuing IDs to illegal aliens, invalidates IDs issued to illegal aliens in other states, and requires hospitals that use Medicaid to collect data on the costs of providing healthcare to illegal aliens.
As to whether or not Gov. Greg Abbott will call for such a session, Perry said, “We will see!”