AUSTIN — A problematic bill related to the border and immigration passed the Texas Senate last night and appears likely to pass the House quickly.
House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 4 would create state-level crimes for illegal entry and re-entry and allow state magistrates or judges to effectively order people removed from the United States without coordinating with federal immigration authorities.
Last month, the National Immigration Forum sent a letter to Texas legislative leaders raising concerns with earlier versions of these bills and asking them to shift the dialogue toward more productive solutions. Despite the updated language, the same concerns persist.
“These kinds of measures expose migrants to great risks and harms,” said Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, a Forum board member. “In addition, similar enforcement-only approaches have not meaningfully deterred irregular border crossings over the long term.”
“We’ve seen what has happened in other states that tried to pass these types of immigration enforcement laws at the state-level: court challenges and uncertainty for businesses and communities,” said Mustafa Tameez, former consultant to the Department of Homeland Security in the Bush Administration and also a Forum board member from Texas. “Austin cannot fix our broken immigration system. To truly address border challenges and workforce needs, Washington needs to step up.”
“This proposed legislation still raises serious constitutional questions and would endanger people seeking safety,” said Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “Immigration, including enforcement, is a federal responsibility. The two parties should work together in Congress to offer solutions Americans want: order and security at the border, together with solutions that counter labor shortages and inflation. Such solutions will help American-born workers, in addition to immigrants who are already here and contributing.”