Texas: The Issue Is - Rep. Spiller on SB4, which would make illegal border crossing a state crime

Texas lawmakers delivered on a promise Governor Greg Abbott made to pass bills to aid the massive issue at the border.

SB4 allows officers to arrest anyone they think entered the country illegally.

FOX 4’s Steven Dial spoke to North Texas Rep. David Spiller, who carried the bill in the House. 

Rep. Spiller: "States have every constitutional right, authority, and ability to secure their borders. That is, that we have in Texas and I would suspect in other states as well. That's not in conflict, in my opinion, with the U.S. Constitution."

Dial:  SB4 has been controversial since you guys have rolled this out. Why do you not see it as something that should be controversial?"

Rep. Spiller: "I understand the argument that folks on the other side are making. I'm sympathetic to that. It's just a policy decision and approaches to how we want to tackle the problem of illegal immigration. The Biden Administration has absolutely failed and refused to secure our border, to protect taxes, to protect our nation, and will not enforce current immigration law and policy. And so it is incumbent now for Texas to step up and test and protect Texans."

Dial: "The bill, if it becomes law, would empower local and state law enforcement to, if they suspect someone who crossed the border illegally, they'll be able to arrest them and they will go before a judge. Do you think this can open the door to racial profiling?"

Rep. Spiller: "SB4 is very specific and talks about illegal entry. If an officer would have to have probable cause to believe that someone crossed into our state from a foreign country illegally, someplace other than a lawful port of entry, and if so, that's a Class B misdemeanor that is currently under federal law now. There would have to be probable cause for the officer to do that. So you have an officer make that determination. Then you take him to an independent magistrate who would also confirm or met and determine if they believe that that existed. And if so, a prosecutor could move forward with that case or the people, under this version of the bill, would have the option to say, look, ‘Yes, and in lieu of further prosecutions, I'm willing, if you'll take me back to a port of entry, to go back to the country from which I came.’"

Dial: "Isn't this just going to aid in overcrowding prisons? And who pays for that? It's going to possibly dramatically change at least our southern county jails, right?"

Rep. Spiller: "I think most people will opt into, instead of being incarcerated in a jail or facility or detention facility would say, look, I'm here. Yes, I got here illegally. Yes, I don't want to be prosecuted and sit in a jail. I'm willing to go back to the country. And so those people would not be incarcerated. They would be detained temporarily until they get to a magistrate. But then the magistrate would determine the method and manner in which they were transported back to the port of entry and they would return. So that's not really resulting in further incarceration, as a matter of fact. It would add that it could be less incarceration than what we have right now, where we're prosecuting people for criminal trespass. That's generally the only tool. Unless an officer sees something more serious as an undue advance to something of a felony or something else. Generally, the only tool that they have now is to prosecute people under criminal trespass."

Steven: "Do you think there are enough exceptions and carve outs where this isn't just a law that will just round up people who law enforcement may think entered the country illegally?"

Rep. Spiller: "We don't want schools to be a place where, you know, where we're arresting people, you know, or anything like that. So public or private primary or secondary schools, churches, synagogues, places of worship, places of impact. I even expanded it from what I did before other hospitals to add health care facilities as that time was defined under law, which is much broader, and saying, look, if someone needs medical attention or medical care or health care in any way, we don't want to inhibit that in any respect.