The Texas House of Representatives has voted to allow local police to arrest migrants and be able to return them to Mexico.
Issues related to migrants, the border, and deportation are typically handled by the federal government.
The bill passed, 84-60 along party lines, after several hours of objection by Democrats. It is now heading to the state Senate for approval.
State Rep. David Spiller, who authored the bill, said that it is a “humane, logical and efficient approach to a problem created and fostered by the Biden administration’s prohibitive failure and refusal to secure our border,” according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. He added there is “nothing unfair about ordering someone back from where they came if they arrived here illegally.”
The proposal makes it a criminal offense for someone who is not a US citizen to enter Texas anywhere along the state’s 1,254-mile border with Mexico, other than a legal port of entry.
The Chronicle report explains, “Under the bill, officers would be able to charge anyone who unlawfully enters or tries to enter Texas from Mexico with a misdemeanor punishable with up to six months in jail. In lieu of arrest, police could opt to drop migrants off at ports of entry and order their return back across the border. Those who refuse could be charged with a second-degree felony and face up to 20 years in prison.”
Spiller explained that the port drop off option would be used in the majority of cases as it would it be too costly to detain them all.
Democrats argued that the bill would lead to racial profiling, mistrust between people of color and law enforcement, and even the possible removal of citizens who forget to bring their ID cards with them.
State Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat, argued that the bill will remove due process.
“A cop anywhere can skip arrest, skip a judge, skip even booking or a report or any kind of record at all, and just take them to the border and tell them to get out,” Moody said.
A tense situation also erupted between State Rep. Armando Walle, a Houston Democrat, and Republican Rep. Cody Harris. The exchange was captured on camera and posted to social media.
House is still at ease and will return to take up HB 4.
“It hurts us,” Walle says.
(Got this from a source as I was not this close to the lawmakers) pic.twitter.com/wpCgeJJOlr
— Aarón Torres (@AaronTorres_) October 26, 2023
“Y’all don’t understand the sh-t that y’all do hurts our community,” Walle said during the confrontation. “It hurts us to our f-cking core, and y’all don’t understand that. You don’t live in our f-cking skin.”