Texas, which has conflicted with the Joe Biden administration over the issue of illegal immigrants crossing the southern U.S. border, is controversial as it is pushing legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to be detained ex officio and sent back to Mexico.
According to the Texas Legislature on the 26th, three bills to strengthen border security were passed in the state House of Representatives this morning.
Among these, the most controversial issue during the voting process was a bill that would allow state police to arrest immigrants who crossed the border illegally and return them to Mexico across the border.
Under the bill, first-time offenders could face up to 180 days in jail for a misdemeanor and repeat offenders could face up to two years in jail for a felony.
The Texas State Legislature has a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and Republican House members attempted to pass this bill quickly. However, the Texas Tribune, a local newspaper, reported that due to strong opposition from Democratic lawmakers, discussions and adjournments continued all night long from the previous evening.
According to this newspaper, Rep. Spiller argued that the bill he sponsored did not exceed federal law and that “it is not unfair to order someone who entered the country illegally to return to where they came from.”
But Democratic state Rep. Victoria Neve Criado said she was concerned that officers could mistakenly arrest U.S. citizens living near the border if they do not have identification. She also pointed out that Mexican authorities will not accept non-Mexican immigrants returning from Texas.
In the end, this bill was passed with 84 votes in favor and 60 against.
The U.S. media predicted that this bill would be approved by the Texas Senate, which has taken a hard-line stance on border security issues, and then signed by Governor Greg Abbott.
Governor Abbott, a Republican, has been taking a strong stance against the illegal immigration issue by strengthening border security for several years under the name of ‘Operation Lone Star’.
The other two bills passed by the House of Representatives on this day are a bill to allocate an additional $1.5 billion (approximately 2 trillion won) to the construction of a border wall being promoted by Governor Abbott and a bill to strengthen punishment for those who promote illegal immigration.
The New York Times (NYT) reported on the state of Texas’ legislative progress on this day and pointed out, “A bill that allows local police to arrest illegal immigrants poses a direct challenge to the federal government’s authority over border security.”
The NYT pointed out that this bill makes no exceptions for asylum seekers allowed by federal law among illegal immigrants.