Border security advocates are raising concerns regarding one piece of the Texas House’s border security package.
In a joint statement, Texans for Strong Borders and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) say they are concerned that language in House Bill 20 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) would contradict its intended purpose.
HB 20 would establish the Border Protection Unit, a new unit under the Texas Department of Public Safety that would be responsible for facilitating the building and maintenance of the barrier walls along the border, deterring or repelling illegal aliens in the event of an invasion, and returning illegal aliens to Mexico when they cross illegally during a declared invasion.
However, HB 20 states that even during an invasion, deterring, repelling, or returning aliens to Mexico must be consistent with federal immigration law.
“This bill seeks to give Texas the tools and explicit statutory authority to repel the invasion at our border and end the crisis perpetuated by the Biden Administration,” said TFSB and FAIR. “However, we have some serious concerns that the bill’s language may serve to undermine its purpose.”
It seems to make the invasion powers subject to the authority of federal immigration law (Title 8), however, such language would undermine enforcement of these provisions and pigeonhole this section of the bill into the precedent set in Arizona v. U.S. The entire point of Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 is that these powers are NOT subject to congressional authority when a state is “actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.”
TFSB and FAIR advised that removing the language subjecting the state’s invasion powers to “federal immigration laws” would solve the concern at hand.
Another requirement of HB 20 is that in order to remove illegal aliens under an invasion, they must be observed crossing the border illegally and then arrested/detained in the “immediate vicinity.”
TFSB and FAIR suggest this requirement would “unnecessarily limit the scope of removal authority to a tiny fraction of illegal crossings,” and they recommend “broadening the scope of this provision to include illegal aliens like those who are being arrested every day under Operation Lone Star.”
HB 20 is part of a broader border security package and has been referred to the House Committee on State Affairs.
The Texas GOP has made securing the border and protecting Texans one of eight legislative priorities for the session.
Texas Scorecard reached out to Schaefer for comment, but he did not respond prior to publication.