AUSTIN (KMID/KPEJ)- Border security legislation co-authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf is headed to the House floor for debate. This comes as Texas continues to bus migrants to cities such as Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia; more than 50,000 to date.
House Bill 4, which creates a criminal offense for illegal entry and authorizes licensed peace officers to remove illegal immigrants from Texas, passed out of the House State Affairs Committee by a vote of 8 to 3 and is now expected to receive consideration by the full House as early as Wednesday. If passed by the Texas House of Representatives, the legislation will head to the Texas Senate for consideration and must ultimately be signed by the governor to go into law.
“Illegal border crossings set a new record in September,” Landgraf said. “The Biden administration’s failed policies are placing the lives and property of Texans at risk, requiring the state to take immediate further action. Just a few weeks ago I was there myself, personally witnessing the mass of humanity overwhelming personnel and infrastructure in Texas border communities. I’m incredibly thankful Governor Abbott included border security legislation on the call for this special session so that we can take meaningful steps to keep Texans safe right now.”
On October 9, the Texas legislature convened for a special 30-day legislative session called by Governor Greg Abbott. During a special session, the legislature can only consider legislation related to topics included in the governor’s agenda for that session. Legislation to do more to reduce illegal immigration and legislation to impede illegal entry into Texas were among the items included on the agenda for the current session.
During the 2023 fiscal year, which ended in September, U.S. Customs and Border Control reported a record-breaking 2.475 million border enforcement encounters along the U.S.-Mexico border. Nearly 270,000 of these encounters occurred in September, the largest monthly total in history.
“House Bill 4 will add to the state’s arsenal of tools available to secure the border,” Landgraf said. “If passed, HB 4 will enable Texas law enforcement officials to not just arrest a person for illegal entry, but to remove that person from the state. This, in addition to the ongoing construction of the border wall and efforts of DPS and the Texas National Guard as part of Operation Lone Star, will make Texas a safer place. I will keep working to get HB 4 passed and will not stop fighting until the border is secure.”
HB 4 creates state criminal offenses for illegal entry from a foreign nation, with the penalty ranging from a misdemeanor to a second degree felony under certain conditions. HB 4 also authorizes a peace officer, in lieu of arrest, to remove a person detained for such an offense by transporting the person to a port of entry.
In addition to co-authoring HB 4, Landgraf supported efforts earlier this year to increase border security funding to $5.1 billion in the state budget for 2024 and 2025 to cover expenses incurred by Operation Lone Star and the border wall construction. Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, over 479,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended, resulting in over 32,300 felony charges and the seizure of over 434 million lethal doses of fentanyl.