Special to The Messenger
BROWNSVILLE – Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a transformative package of border security legislation passed during Special Session #3 and Special Session #4 of the 88th Texas Legislature at the Texas border wall in Brownsville, Monday, Dec. 18. These three new laws will bolster Texas’ unprecedented border security efforts and crackdown on human smuggling, deter the flow of illegal border crossings, and protect the lives and property of Texans by funding the ongoing construction of Texas’ border wall.
“Four years ago, the United States had the fewest illegal border crossings in decades,” said Governor Abbott. “It was because of four policies put in place by the Trump Administration that led to such a low number of illegal crossings. President Biden has eliminated all of those policies and done nothing to halt illegal immigration. President Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself. Today, I will sign three laws to better protect Texas—and America—from President Biden’s border neglect. These laws will help stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas, add additional funding to build more border wall, and crackdown on human smuggling.”
The Governor was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) President Brandon Judd, Adjutant General of Texas Major General Thomas Suelzer, Texas Border Czar Mike Banks, Senator Pete Flores, Senator Joan Huffman, Senator Charles Perry, Representative Ryan Guillen, Representative Jacey Jetton, Representative David Spiller, Representative Mano DeAyala, Representative Stan Kitzman, Representative Janie Lopez, and other border officials.
“As Lieutenant Governor, securing the southern border has been one of my biggest priorities since first being elected in 2006,” said Lieutenant Governor Patrick. “Since I took office as Lieutenant Governor, Texas has increased border security funding more than any time in history. It has never been more clear that Texas must step into the breach created by the border security liars and deniers Biden, Harris, and Mayorkas, and the signing of these three bills is indicative of the Texas Senate and my commitment to stemming the flow of illegal immigration and a strong southern border.”
“Border Patrol agents nationwide, not just in Texas, are grateful for Governor Abbott’s leadership and willingness to recognize that it is the rule of law that keeps all Americans safe,” said NBPC President Judd. “His actions have already saved lives, and his continued actions will undoubtedly save thousands more. As the flagrant disregard of our laws too often is the norm throughout our country, Texans can be proud that their governor will not back down to pervasive and radical woke ideology. Instead, he will continue to look out for the best interests of his great state.”
“The Texas National Guard remains decisively engaged with thousands of troops from El Paso down to Brownsville,” said General Suelzer. “In this effort, we’ve constructed miles of concertina wire, put up over a thousand anti-climb barrier panels, and have employed new surveillance vehicles that will help get after gotaways that are getting into the country. I want to thank the Governor for his relentless effort to protect Texans, and the Lieutenant Governor and legislators for giving the Texas National Guard all the tools they need to keep Texans safe.”
“Under Governor Abbott’s leadership, Operation Lone Star has deployed tactical infrastructure that has allowed us to create great deterrence along the Texas-Mexico border,” said Border Czar Banks. “Today’s bill signings by the Governor will allow Texas to continue building the wall, empower our law enforcement officers to arrest those who come into Texas illegally, and enhance criminal penalties for crimes such as smuggling and stash house operations. As the Texas Border Czar and a former Border Patrol agent, I thank Governor Abbott for having the moral courage to defend Texas and our nation when President Biden refuses to do so.”
Senate Bill 4 from Special Session #3 (Flores/Guillen) creates a mandatory ten-year minimum prison sentence for smuggling of persons and continuous smuggling of persons. Passed with bipartisan support, the law enhances the criminal penalties for the operation of a stash house and creates a mandatory five-year minimum prison sentence. It also further enhances criminal penalties for victim-related offenses that occurred during the commission of smuggling, such as assault and burglary.
Senate Bill 3 from Special Session #4 (Huffman/Jetton) appropriates $1.54 billion in general revenue to the Trusteed Programs within the Office of the Governor for border security operations and the construction, operation, and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure.
Senate Bill 4 from Special Session #4 (Perry/Spiller) creates a criminal offense for illegal entry into this state from a foreign nation. The law cracks down on repeated attempts to enter Texas by creating the offense of illegal reentry and penalizes offenders with up to 20 years in prison. It also provides the mechanism to order an offender to return to the foreign nation from which the person entered or attempted to enter this state. The law provides civil immunity and indemnification for local and state government officials, employees, and contractors for lawsuits resulting from the enforcement of these provisions.
In June, Governor Abbott signed into law six border security laws passed during the 88th Regular Legislative Session to expand Texas’ unprecedented efforts to hold the line and protect Texans from the record level of illegal immigration, weapons, and deadly drugs pouring into Texas from Mexico.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]