EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) The Texas House and the Senate have passed HB 7, which would allow state police to arrest people who cross the border between ports of entry.
The bill would also allow for the creation of a new state border police force.
Republican Senators amending the bill will allow commissioned law enforcement and non-commissioned employees to be on the force. However, only the commissioned law enforcement could make arrests.
Senator Cesar Blanco (D) – El Paso says raising concerns over people in border communities in El Paso are getting pulled over by the new force.
“The creation of the border unit, I’m concerned that law-abiding border residents who are predominantly Latino are going to be subject to potential harassment pretextual traffic stops by this new border force,” said Blanco.
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso bringing up similar concerns for El Paso.
“What it is going to do is make life a lot more precarious and scary for people who are just trying to go about their day-to-day lives in the community. You know, now you would have to wonder if you’re giving your undocumented parent or neighbor a ride to work, whether you’re going to face a ten-year sentence for human trafficking,” said Robert Heyman the Strategic Advisor for Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center.
HB 7 would also make it a state crime to cross the border between ports of entry and put a 10-year minimum sentence for human smuggling.
Senator Brian Birdwell (R) – Granbury says HB 7 would enhance border security operations and provide more tools to law enforcement.
“Three governments involved in this decision, the Mexican government and the federal government are failing, Texas will not,” said Birdwell.
El Paso Immigration Attorney Felipe Millan told KTSM he forsees lawsuits in the state’s future with the new force.
“If you don’t know what you’re enforcing now, you’re going to get hit with lawsuits because there are lawyers out there, myself included, who will sue the government or will sue the state or the locals for violating somebody’s civil rights or detain them unlawfully,” said Millan.