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Newest Plan for State-run Border Security Heads to Texas Senate

A plan from the Texas House to increase border security is headed to the Senate. If approved, it would pay for new detention centers and additional prosecution of offenders, and it would create a new law enforcement agency dedicated to border security.

The state has already spent billions of dollars and poured thousands of Texas National Guard members and Department of Public Safety troopers into the effort. Recent polling by the UT Texas Politics Project finds nearly 90% of GOP voters say they want the legislature to increase border security funding.

With that kind of public support, House Bill 7 would go further establishing judicial overhauls for prosecuting crimes on or near the border. It would allow the state to establish its own border protection unit of commissioned police officers, effectively becoming a Texas version of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Republican lawmakers from across Texas say border communities are crying out for this type of legislation.

“There is a very real human element here, and a story that needs to be told from the perspective of the border communities that are being decimated,” said Rep. Ellen Troxclair from Lakeway.

But elected officials from the border still prefer the feds handle the situation.

“I think it’s a step in the wrong direction, the responsibility of border enforcement is the federal government,” said Sen. Cesar Blanco from El Paso.

An issue is whether any state can legally do this kind of border enforcement. A decade-old U.S. Supreme Court case out of Arizona would suggest no.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has urged state lawmakers to go as far as possible with HB 7 to see what the current Supreme Court will allow.

“Test it and find out where the court is and what the parameters of that decision are,” he said.

Meanwhile, Texas border cities feel caught in the middle of all this. They consistently rank high in the U.S. safe city lists, but worry the state’s emphasis on border security is tarnishing their image.

To answer that concern, state lawmakers are including in HB 7 an economic development initiative that will have the state tourism office create a campaign to attract businesses and tourists to border areas.

Source: KPIC