(VitalNews.org) – Fed up with what they perceive as the federal government’s desire to see more illegal immigrants flood across the US-Mexico border, Texas Republicans want the state to form a specific police unit to deal with the problem.
Texas House Bill 20, sponsored by Republican state representative Matt Schaefer, would create a “Border Protection Unit” of state police. Under the bill, officers would be empowered to arrest migrants who cross the border anywhere but legal entry points. Officers would also be allowed to detain crossers using “non-deadly force.”
The bill doesn’t stop with detention; it would carry actual consequences for illegal migrants who trespass into Texas. Those arrested for crossing illegally could face imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of $10,000.
Schaefer’s legislation also recognizes the jeopardy officers might find themselves in from doing their jobs. It would grant them immunity from criminal and civil liability for performing their jobs. This will likely appeal to police who watched the federal government falsely accuse border agents of “whipping” immigrants on horseback in 2021.
The accusation, accompanied by a picture of border agents on horseback that could be used to imply that agents were whipping fleeing Haitians, was later found to be false. No whipping or brutal behavior occurred.
House Bill 20 would also allow the Border Protection Unit to hire civilians with no past felony convictions for support and operational jobs. However, these would not have any arresting or direct law enforcement powers.
Texas GOP Senator Brian Birdwell has also introduced a similar bill that would make it a crime for anyone to cross the border illegally to avoid the legal immigration process.
Birdwell’s bill, which has the support of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, would give a jail sentence of one to two years for anyone who tries to cross illegally a second time. If such a person had a prior felony conviction, he could face a lifetime prison sentence.
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