Illegal border crossing has become a crime in Texas: people will be arrested for it - ForumDaily
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Illegal border crossing has become a crime in Texas: you will be arrested for it

The Texas House of Representatives has approved immigration bills. They would allocate more than $1,5 billion to install additional border barriers and make it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border illegally. The publication told in more detail Texas Tribune.

Photo: IStock

Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) would allocate $1,54 billion to build border barriers and pay state troopers to patrol Colony Ridge, a housing development near Houston that far-right outlets say is a magnet for illegal immigrants.

During House debate, lawmakers passed an amendment to SB 3 introduced by state Rep. Tracy King. The amendment allows some of the funds to be used to help local police and authorities combat new types of crimes described in Senate Bill 4 (SB 4).

On the subject: Texas city declares state of emergency due to influx of migrants

SB 4 would make it a state crime to illegally cross the Mexico border into Texas, give Texas police officers the power to arrest illegal immigrants, and require a state judge to order a person's deportation from the U.S. to Mexico instead of prosecuting them.

“If we want to get them to do it, we have to help them pay for it,” King said.

SB 3, which passed by a vote of 84/59, returns to the state Senate, which previously approved the bill, for a vote on the amended version.

SB 4 passed with a vote of 83/61. The Senate already passed the bill last week and it now heads to the governor for signature.

Under SB 4, the charge could be upgraded to a felony if the undocumented immigrant is accused of other crimes or refuses to comply with a judge's order to return to Mexico.

The bill, among other things, allows immigrants to present any evidence during court proceedings that they are in the country legally. The maximum penalty for a minor offense is a year in prison, for a serious offense - from two to 20 years in prison.

Democrats introduced dozens of amendments to the bill, including language that would exclude immigrant children and victims of human trafficking and sexual assault from being targeted. Other amendments provided that if Mexico did not accept people from a particular country, the immigrant could use this as a defense against prosecution.

None of the amendments were adopted.

David Spiller, the author of SB 4, urged lawmakers to vote against the amendments because his goal is to "get this bill passed and sent to the governor's desk as quickly as possible."

On November 14, after eight hours of discussion, Republicans accepted a motion to end debate despite Democrats' objections.

Victoria State Representative Neve Criado asked why Republicans are silencing Democrats as they debate a bill that affects the entire state of Texas.

Republican lawmakers are trying to pass the proposals in their fourth special session in a year after failing to approve similar bills in previous special sessions.

During debate over SB 3, Democrats expressed concern that funds were being spent on the border when the state could be funding hospitals, making health care more affordable or updating state prison infrastructure.

State Rep. John Bryant said the state could build 15 hospitals at $100 million each in rural Texas with the money proposed for border barriers and Colony Ridge.

“I could list all the things that this money could be spent on, but we are currently $2 billion short just to pay for the current level of special education that our independent school districts bear,” Bryant said. - This is a huge amount of money. We should not spend them unless we know there is evidence that they will discourage illegal entry into Texas.”

State Rep. Chris Turner asked the bill's sponsor, Jaycee Jetton, why the proposal allocated $40 million to increase law enforcement presence in Colony Ridge.

“Can you explain what problem deserves these allocations?” Turner asked.

Jetton refused.

“I'm not going to try to discuss or understand whether Colony Ridge is safe or unsafe,” Jetton retorted.

During the House debate on SB 4, Spiller said the proposal was aimed at immigrants who recently crossed the Rio Grande into Texas, not those who have been in the state for a long time. Because the statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years, illegal immigrants who crossed the border more than two years ago would not be harmed if the bill passes, he said.

“If you imagine to the general public that the Texas House of Representatives is going to pass a bill that will lead to the arrest of someone's grandmother who has lived here her entire life, that is completely false,” Spiller said.

State Rep. Joe Moody introduced two amendments to the bill that would have required police and prosecutors to determine whether an immigrant arrested under the new law is in the country legally before starting a trial. Both amendments failed.

“For a person who follows the rules, even one minute of deprivation of his freedom is too much,” Moody said.

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In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled in Arizona vs US that local police do not have the power to arrest people based solely on their immigration status, and that responsibility falls to the federal government. The case stemmed from a 2010 Arizona law known as SB 1070, which makes it a state crime for legal immigrants not to carry immigration documents and requires police officers to inquire into the immigration status of anyone they come into contact with.

During the debate, Democrats said that no matter how Republicans try to make SB 4 constitutional, the Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot enforce immigration laws on their own.

“We all know why we are here,” Niv Criado said. “SB 4 intends to challenge the decade-long decision in Arizona vs. US, given the new composition of the US Supreme Court, which, as we see, has already overturned 50 years of Roe v. Wade precedent.”

Spiller denies that is his intention.

“People have asked me, are we trying to overturn Arizona vs US? And my answer is no,” Spiller emphasized.

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