Governor Abbott Signs Six Bills to Address Biden's Border Crisis
FAIR Take | June 2023
On June 8, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed six bills passed by the state legislature during regular session aimed at expanding border security and ending illegal immigration. These bills passed through the Texas legislature with strong support from legislators who are simultaneously trying to grapple with the impact the last two years of rampant illegal immigration have had across the state. The bills signed by Governor Abbott do the following:
Senate Bill (SB) 423 authorizes the Texas Military Department to use drones as part of the state’s mission on the southern border.
SB 602 gives Border Patrol agents who complete certain training the powers of a Texas peace officer to arrest and conduct search and seizure at ports of entry or at Border Patrol checkpoints.
SB 1133 compensates landowners up to $75,000 for damages to agricultural land caused by an individual committing a “border crime.”
SB 1403 creates an interstate compact without Congressional authority to allow participating states’ law enforcement agencies to share resources and intelligence for purposes of border enforcement.
SB 1484 enhances the Department of Public Safety (DPS) training for border operations by creating a training program (which includes training on cartel-related activity as well as the best tactics to address border crimes) for peace officers employed by local law enforcement agencies.
SB 1900 designates drug cartels and other similar groups as “foreign terrorist organizations” (FTOs) under state law and adds them to the organized crime offenses. It adds higher penalties for criminal activity associated with FTOs and allows local entities to seek public nuisance claims against them.
After the signing ceremony, Governor Abbott announced a new initiative to secure the border. This initiative directs state officials to deploy “marine floating barriers to deter illegal crossings in hotspots along the Rio Grande River.” Abbott stated, “[W]hat we are doing right now, we are securing the border at the border – what these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border.” The first 1,000-foot barrier will be placed in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass.
Governor Abbott also called a special session to secure legislative passage of a bill that would increase the penalties for human smuggling and operating a stash house. On May 30, the day after the special session was called, the House passed HB 2, a bill aligned with the Governor’s directive and sent it to the Senate. However before the Senate could send it back (along with two other immigration bills), the House had adjourned. Thus the bills cannot go forward unless the House reverses its previous vote to adjourn. This leaves about two weeks for the legislature to reach a solution, as the special session ends 30 days after it is called.
Not limiting himself to legislative action, Governor Abbott has also called on our nation’s governors to help him secure the border. In a letter sent to all governors, he said, “the flood of illegal border activity invited by the Biden Administration flows directly across the southern border into Texas communities, but this crisis does not stop in our state. Emboldened Mexican drug cartels and other transnational criminal enterprises profit off this chaos, smuggling people and dangerous drugs like fentanyl into communities nationwide.” Governor Abbott urged the governors to “band together to combat President Biden’s ongoing border crisis and ensure the safety and security that all Americans deserve.” The Texan then called on governors to “send all available law enforcement personnel and resources to the Texas-Mexico border to serve alongside Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troops.”
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis was the first to respond saying, “at my direction, state agencies including law enforcement and the Florida National Guard are being deployed to Texas, with assets including personnel, boats and planes. While Biden ignores the crisis he created, Florida stands ready to help Texas respond to this crisis.” In addition to Florida, the following 13 states also agreed to help: Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Governor Abbot’s efforts to secure the border have not come without significant expense. Texas allocated $5.1 billion this year to secure its border with Mexico. In 2022, it spent $4.5 billion on border security, the majority of the funding being directed to Operation Lone Star, Texas National Guard troops and DPS, as well as busing illegal aliens to sanctuary cities. In addition to the state allocating funds, cities like El Paso have been forced to spend money as well. El Paso spent more than $8 million to house asylum seekers and bus them to New York.
Sadly, with the Biden administration unwilling to take any steps to curb the flow of migrants, the burden has fallen onto Texas to protect its own citizens, and our nation as a whole.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is now at the forefront, fighting to stop the surge of border crossers from entering his state and the rest of the U.S. Already this fiscal year, US Border Patrol has apprehended over 1.2 million individuals at the southern border with the majority of crossers arriving and being apprehended in Texas.