88th Legislature Immigration Bills

For years, burdens of an unworkable system of immigration have fallen heavily on states and communities along the US-Mexico border. The human and moral cost of ongoing federal inaction to create an effective set of policies to ensure safe and orderly migration is tragically reflected both in an unprecedented number of persons wishing to enter the country and the skyrocketing number of deaths of migrants at the border in the past year.

Different proposals now under consideration in the Texas legislature attempt to address the dangerous vigilantism and a growing criminal network preying on those who are fleeing violence in their homelands.  We understand that our state legislators are trying to address the failures of the federal government. Sadly, we are unable to support most of these bills since they, too, fall far short of honoring the dignity of each human person with fundamental rights, such as safety, so they can flourish and contribute to a strong and peaceable society.

We welcome the opportunity to work with civic leaders, especially our Texas legislators, to uphold the rights and dignity of every person and to foster the common good. Below are specific bills that the Texas bishops are opposing.

You can receive weekly updates about activities of the TCCB and legislation that addresses the bishops' priorities by signing up for our Texas Catholic Advocacy Network.

Durante años las cargas de un sistema migratorio inviable han recaído pesadamente sobre los estados y las comunidades ubicados a lo largo de la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México. El costo humano y moral de la continua inacción federal para crear un conjunto eficaz de políticas que garanticen una migración segura y ordenada, se refleja trágicamente tanto en un número sin precedentes de personas que desean ingresar al país, como en el aumento vertiginoso en la cantidad de muertes de migrantes en la frontera durante el año pasado.

Las diferentes propuestas que se están considerando en la legislatura de Texas intentan abordar las peligrosas actitudes justicieras, así como una creciente red criminal que se aprovecha de quienes huyen de la violencia en sus países de origen. Entendemos que nuestros legisladores estatales están tratando de abordar las fallas del gobierno federal. Lamentablemente no podemos apoyar la mayoría de estos proyectos de ley, ya que tampoco honran la dignidad de cada ser humano dotado de derechos fundamentales, como la seguridad para que puedan prosperar y contribuir a una sociedad fuerte y pacífica.

Damos la bienvenida a la oportunidad de trabajar con líderes cívicos, especialmente con nuestros legisladores de Texas, para defender los derechos y la dignidad de cada persona y fomentar el bien común.

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Bills on the move

These bills are high priority! Please call or write your representative today to register your opposition!

HB 7 by Rep. Ryan Guillen

Establishes the Texas Border Force in the Texas Rangers Division of DPS. There is no limitation on Border Force authority by local governments. It creates a state crime for unlawful entry from a foreign nation. It establishes a 10-year minimum for smuggling, and adds "foreign terrorist organization" to laws on gangs and organized crime. It creates a landowner compensation program for property damage caused by illegal activity, an interagency workgroup on border issues, and provides financial assistance for infrastructure, facilities, equipment, and services in the border region.

The TCCB opposes HB 7 because it creates a state crime of a person’s presence in the United States while pursuing legal federal processes including the years long asylum process. Additionally, the scale and scope of the Texas Border Force is overly broad with little oversight and significant due process concerns.

SB 2424 by Sen. Brian Birdwell

Creates a new offense of improper entry from a foreign nation, including those seeking asylum or brought here as minors by their parents.

The TCCB opposes this bill which fails to account for the years long asylum and DACA processes and makes state crimes of a person’s presence in the United States while pursuing legal federal processes. 

HB 82 by Rep. David Spiller

Gives the governor authority to coordinate, develop, and execute an interstate compact for border security among interested states with or without approval of the US Congress.

The TCCB opposes this bill because it encroaches on the federal government’s jurisdiction over matters of immigration. 

HB 1600 by Rep. Cole Hefner

Adds a new offense to the penal code for "illegal entry." A person commits this offense by entering or attempting to enter the State of Texas by crossing the border with Mexico at any time or place other than at a port of entry. An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, unless it is not the first offense and then it is a second degree felony.

The TCCB opposes this bill because it fails to distinguish between persons crossing the border, many of whom are children, victims and asylum seekers, who may cross the border without lawful status but then file for asylum or another form of relief and are able to obtain it through the federal system.

HB 65 by Rep. David Spiller

Increases the criminal penalties for offenses committed in the course of or for the purpose of unlawfully entering the United States, unlawfully bypassing certain law enforcement checkpoints, or evading arrest or detention. First, the bill includes a presumption of intent for smuggling of persons if the actor unlawfully bypassed a federal or state law enforcement checkpoint. Second, the bill makes it a third degree felony if it is shown at trial that the actor committed an assault in the course of or for the purpose of unlawfully entering the US. The bill also enhances the penalty for certain misdemeanors or state jail felonies if it is shown at trial that the crime was committed in the course of or for the purpose of unlawfully entering the US or engaging in evading arrest or detention (e.g., burglary, burglary of a vehicle).

The TCCB opposes this bill because it creates greater penalties for immigrants than other criminals and because its overly broad definition of smuggling could encompass a wide range of acts.