Members of the Texas Senate are being charged by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to study a series of issues surrounding illegal immigration in preparation for the next legislative session. Specifically, he has directed the subcommittee on Border Security to study cooperation with local law enforcement and governments, the feasibility of an interstate compact, and approaches to dealing with the problem of sanctuary cities.
On the subject of cooperating with local law enforcement, the charges order the Subcommittee to “Study local government efforts to secure their border communities and identify areas where the state could invest to bolster local law enforcement infrastructure and activities. Review the challenges faced by state and local law enforcement when providing border security, including the Federal Priority Enforcement Program.”
On that note, there was a bill (HB 592 by State Rep. Matt Krause) last session that would have provided a mechanism for local law enforcement cooperation in the Federal “Secure Communities” Program—a deportation program that prioritizes the most dangerous offenders. Unfortunately, it met its death in State Affairs, where—like so many other bills addressing border security— Chairman State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) killed it.
Regarding “Sanctuary Cities,” Patrick directs the Subcommittee to, “Study the various sanctuary cities statewide, the number and types of crimes committed by previously arrested illegal immigrants within the jurisdiction of a “sanctuary policy,” and possible solutions to discourage governmental entities from putting in place policies that conflict with immigration laws.”
Unfortunately, the greatest barrier to any meaningful reform isn’t a lack of information, but a lack of conviction.
During the 84th Session, there was a direct attempt at remedying this issue in the form of bill— HB 4117 by State Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco)— that would have effectively banned cities from adopting “sanctuary” type policies. But it would also meet its end in Cook’s State Affairs Committee.
Despite obstacles in the current House leadership, it is promising that the Senate is continuing its trend of proactivity towards conservative policy solutions.