State, federal lawmakers debate border-related legislation ahead of Title 42 expiration
AUSTIN, Texas - As migrants flood the border ahead of Title 42's expiration, Republican lawmakers at the federal and state level have been trying to pass border-related legislation.
"How much longer will we cede the sovereignty of the Texas border to violent cartels who treat migrants like merchandise and commit countless homicides by fentanyl poisonings?" said Rep. Matt Schaefer, author of House Bill 20, on May 9. "We must bring order in between the ports of entry."
In Austin, a handful of bills were approved by the House earlier this week and are now in the hands of the State Senate, including House Bill 7. The bill was amended to include parts of HB 20 and would fund court systems on the border and implement a "border protection unit."
"These bills are clearly unconstitutional and will endanger public safety," said Bernardo Rafael Cruz, attorney at the ACLU of Texas. "Certain politicians are so unwilling to recognize the humanity in immigrants that they’re treating a humanitarian situation like a war zone."
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own border security measure on Thursday, May 11.
"Certainly, we cannot take everyone who wants to come here. We need rules for orderly immigration – for fairness. They are the rules that Republicans have blocked in this Congress for years," said U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Austin. "So long as they see anti-immigrant hysteria as more valuable to them politically than finding a solution, we’re not going to get there."
Earlier this week, Governor Abbott announced the deployment of a new national guard unit called the "Texas Tactical Border Force" to assist border patrol along with DPS troopers.
"They will be deployed to hotspots along the border to intercept, to repel and to turn back migrants who are trying to enter Texas illegally," Governor Abbott said on Monday.
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Once Title 42 expires, Title 8 becomes the authority when it comes to border policy.
"The lifting of the Title 42 public health order does not mean our border is open," said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday. "Our use of our immigration enforcement authorities under Title 8 of the United States Code means tougher consequences for people who cross the border illegally. Unlike under Title 42, an individual who is removed under Title 8 is subject to at least a five-year bar on re-entry into the United States and can face criminal prosecution if they attempt to cross again."