EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Two bills by Sen. Cesar Blanco were passed by the Texas Senate at the state Capitol on Friday: Senate Bill 886 (SB 886) and Senate Bill 1308 (SB 1308). Both bills are meant to help alleviate strain on the immigration system.
SB 886 will mandate the Texas Veterans Commission to help eligible veterans with the process toward citizenship.
“Senate Bill 886 requires the Texas Veteran Commission to help eligible veterans navigate the complicated naturalization process,” said Blanco.
More than 1.5 million U.S. military veterans live in Texas. Federal law permits a person to serve in the military if they are living as a legal resident, have permission to work through a permanent residence card, have a high school diploma and are English proficient.
Service members who are not U.S. citizens and whose superior officers certify that they are serving with honor can use an expedited process to seek U.S. citizenship. However, thousands of veterans who served have been deported.
“Far too often, veterans who are eligible for naturalization don’t know it or don’t know how to navigate the process. Some of our heroes even get deported after their honorable service. This bill will make sure eligible Texas veterans get the assistance they need to become citizens of the country they served,” he said.
SB 1308 requires certain state agencies to investigate the ways new technology can be used to optimize cross-border trade and improve wait times.
Trade with Mexico is a crucial part of the Texas economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that trade between Texas and Mexico amounted to more than $440 billion in 2019.
Trade with Mexico provides about 463,132 jobs with thousands of small businesses and manufacturers.
“Modernizing our ports of entry will enhance trade, security and job growth along the border,” said Blanco. “Senate Bill 1308 will study the potential utilization of emerging technologies at ports of entry to improve trade and reduce border wait times.”