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Legislation Making It a Criminal Offense for Illegal Immigrants Crossing Into Texas Moves Forward

State legislation making it a criminal offense to enter Texas illegally at the southern border is closer to getting to the governor’s desk.

The Senate Border Security Committee advanced it Wednesday.

This latest version did not include a provision that was in the original House bill that would have allowed law enforcement to return illegal immigrants to the border without first going through the judicial process.

There are two big concerns for those opposed to the legislation.

One of those is what happens to county jails that aren’t along the border, like Dallas and Tarrant counties?

The Tarrant County sheriff said they are working on the wording of the proposed law.

And the other big worry for counties is the cost.

There was testimony for and against legislation that would make it a criminal offense to enter Texas illegally along the southern border.

Adam Haynes, with the Council of Urban Counties, said the proposal is an unfunded mandate. He said counties would have to pick up the tab for housing these individuals, but the bill establishes a way for counties to be reimbursed through the governor’s discretionary fund.

“But we have to wait 18 months to get paid back and we’re talking about tens and tens of millions of dollars,” Haynes explained.

If a person is caught in the state illegally, it would be a Class B misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail, and they would have to stay in a county jail until a state agency transports them to the border after they’ve served their sentence.

If people are arrested, should the measure become law, it could add to crowded jails.

“My initial concern was that, what happens to local jails away from the border,” Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said.

Waybourn said what sheriffs want is language added that would make arrests only apply to law enforcement along the border.

“What we’re arguing for and believe we’re going to get is only if you see the illegal crossing or illegal entry. It has to be on view, so that really wouldn’t apply to Tarrant or Dallas or any of us up here. It would only apply to the peace officers on the border,” he added.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation supports the measure.

“We need it to ensure American’s possess the most basic element of sovereignty and that’s the ability to determine who becomes a part of our community,” Melissa Ford Maldonado said.

“This is beyond insanity. I mean, why are you going to try to do this to the citizenry, and the citizenry should be up in arms,” Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said.

Price said what the final legislation will look like has not been determined.

The only thing that is certain is that the new law comes without state money.

“So you’re going to dump it on the local taxpayers and law enforcement in a way that is clearly unmanageable,” he said.

The ink is not dry on the bill yet, and there could be more changes before the full Senate votes.

Then the House would have to pass it, but they’ve not had enough members present lately to take up any business, as some Democrats and Republicans are staying away because of the school voucher proposal.

Source : Fox4