In a move to strengthen border security, the Texas House finally approved two pivotal pieces of legislation late Tuesday, following the Senate’s prior passage last week.
**Senate Bill 3: Investment in Border Barrier Infrastructure**
The House voted 86-56 in favor of Senate Bill 3 on its second reading. This legislation earmarks a substantial $1.5 billion for the maintenance, operation, and construction of border barrier infrastructure. Notably, $1.2 billion of this allocation is dedicated to constructing over 100 miles of non-continuous border walls in Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, and Webb counties.
An amendment proposed by State Rep. Tracy King (D-Uvalde) was incorporated, redirecting funds to support local law enforcement in handling the expenses tied to Senate Bill 4. This bipartisan effort aims to address broader challenges associated with border security.
This bill will be heading back to the Senate for approval after the amendment.
**Senate Bill 4: Imposing Stricter Penalties for Illegal Entry**
With an 83-61 vote, the House approved Senate Bill 4. This legislation introduces a new state crime for illegal entry from a foreign nation, granting Texas law enforcement the authority to arrest and prosecute illegal aliens crossing the border unlawfully anywhere in the state. Penalties include up to 6 months in jail for first-time offenders and two years in state jail for repeat offenders.
Despite efforts by several Democrats to introduce amendments aimed at diluting the measure, all proposed changes were soundly rejected. A total of 52 amendments were filed, but the House, with a motion by State Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), voted to conclude the debate and pass the bill. After passage on third reading without amendments, SB 4 will be sent to the governor’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
**Final Approval and Future Steps**
In the final vote, SB 3 received approval with a vote of 84-59, and SB 4 passed with a vote of 83-61. SB 3 will now return to the Senate for approval due to the additional amendment incorporated in the House.
This legislation underscores conservative Texas lawmakers’ commitment to enhancing border security, allocating resources for critical infrastructure, and enforcing stricter measures against illegal entry. Despite these victories, there is much more work to be done. The state has still failed to address the pull factors driving illegal immigration into our state: employment and taxpayer subsidies/services.