State lawmakers look to enhance punishments at Texas-Mexico border

State lawmakers are looking to enhance punishments for smuggling and illegal crossings along the Texas border.

On Tuesday, the Senate Border Security Committee discussed two bills:

  • SB 4 would increase criminal penalties for human smugglers and criminals operating a stash house.
  • SB 11 would make it a crime in Texas for anyone who crosses the border illegally.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Col. Steve McCraw updated lawmakers on current cartel operations.

"They keep in touch and know what's going on policy-wise, and how they're being treated," Col. McCraw said. "If they're being released, catch and release, and where we're at right now, catch and release, they will come."


"There's no more organized or powerful and violent or ruthless criminal organization in the world than the Mexican cartels," Col. McCraw said. "They're operating along those lines, and they're innovative, and they use military-style tactics."

In Tuesday's special legislative session, Gov. Abbott made border security one of the state's priorities.