As the Texas House slow-walks conservative priorities through the legislative process, concerns are growing regarding the status of much-needed border security measures.
“Several priority bills remain stuck in committee, several without so much as a hearing,” Chris Russo, president of Texans for Strong Borders, told Texas Scorecard. “Texas cannot afford to wait until next session. The crisis will worsen once Title 42 expires in May, and our state must be ready to respond.”
Status in the Senate
Two pieces of legislation that seek to build barriers on the Texas-Mexico border are pending before the Senate Committee on Border Security.
Senate Bill 1621 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) would require state contractors, local governments, and private employers to participate in E-Verify, a federal program that verifies whether a new employee has authorization to work in the United States. It’s currently still pending before the Senate Business & Commerce Committee.
Senate Bill 1884 by State Sen. Pete Flores (R–Pleasanton) would create a list of corrupt foreign actors for monitoring and sanctions by the state. It is currently awaiting a floor vote in the Senate before moving to the House for consideration.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 23 by Kolkhorst urges Gov. Greg Abbott to declare an invasion by foreign drug cartels and use all available resources to repel the invasion. It also urges the federal government to designate the Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. SCR 23 passed the Senate and is awaiting a committee referral in the House.
Senate Bill 2424 by State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury) would make it a crime for a person who is not a U.S. citizen to enter the state from a foreign country in a manner not authorized by U.S. immigration officials. SB 2424 passed the Texas Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee.
Status in the House
After a marathon hearing in the House State Affairs Committee, nine pieces of border security legislation addressing various parts of the crisis––from law enforcement funding to increasing criminal smuggling charges––are currently pending before the committee nearly two weeks later.
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. HB 6 has passed from committee and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.
However, as the clock ticks with mere weeks left in the legislative session, border security measures have yet to pass from the House.
Securing the border and protecting Texans is one of eight GOP legislative priorities for the session, as Texans have been sounding the alarm for two years now regarding the devastation to property, livelihoods, and human life.