New border bills bring lawsuits on Texas, while counties rejoice over passage

Matt Roy


Nov 15, 2023

SAN ANTONIO – The sweeping border legislation that was passed in the Texas legislature is now heading to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.

The Governor took to Twitter today to say that he intends to sign both Senate Bill three and four, the former of which is awaiting final passage in the Senate before being sent to the Governor, saying Texas will not wait on President Joe Biden to secure the border.

SB 4 would criminalize illegal entry and authorize the state to remove undocumented immigrants apprehended at our southern border.

SB 3 would approve an additional $1.5 billion for border wall construction and Texas DPS.

Several members of Texas' congressional delegation in Washington are not happy about it and are sounding off. Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the bill is unconstitutional.

"This is dangerous legislation, it's racist legislation, and it's exactly where the Texas Republican party is today,” Castro said in a virtual press conference.

Castro and many of his Democratic colleagues are calling on the Biden administration to prevent these bills from becoming law.

The border bills are already facing legal challenges, too.

Multiple national civil rights organizations have announced that they will sue the state of Texas to prevent these bills from being implemented.

But border county officials, on the other hand, say this bill helps not hurts.

"They're absolutely going to help,” Brent Smith, Kinney County attorney, said. “Absolutely."

Smith said the county is being overrun with undocumented immigrants and the current systems are not working.

"So, at the end of the day, after they're arrested, prosecuted, and everything else, they're still released into the country,” Smith said. “With SB 4, it actually creates that deterrence where they have an order to return back into Mexico."

In part, the bill allows Texas to charge undocumented immigrants with misdemeanors, and possibly upgrade it to a felony, for coming into the country illegally - potentially overrunning county jails.

That is something Smith and Representative David Spiller, the author of the bill, are not concerned about.

“I think we're ready to handle large numbers that we might see," Smith said.

"Senate Bill four was crafted with the idea that we've had enough.” Spiller said. “Texans have had enough. And we have got to do something for Texans to protect Texas."

Meanwhile, organizations like The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are preparing to sue the state to stop the legislation - saying it is prejudicial, xenophobic, and racist.

"I think it's something that's totally unconstitutional,” Domino Garcia, president of LULAC, said. “And we've beaten Texas in the in the past and we will beat them again."

Garcia said they got similar bills overturned in Arizona and that there is no place for this kind of legislation.

“It's a throwback to Hitler type tactics: blaming the Jews, blaming the communists, blaming the gypsies, and here it is blaming the immigrants,” Garcia added.

Spiller was bullish when talking about Texas’ chances to win in court, "it's in line with existing federal law and it's not preempted. So, I think we I think we're on good ground constitutionally,"