Media Contact

Kristi Gross, ACLU of Texas, [email protected]

May 10, 2023

AUSTIN, Texas — Legislators in the Texas House voted Tuesday night to advance a series of anti-immigrant bills to the Senate including House Bills 20 and 7. Both bills seek to expand state immigration enforcement powers. The vote on these bills comes just days after a driver — who witnesses say was shouting anti-immigrant sentiments — killed eight people outside a migrant shelter in Brownsville, Texas.

  • H.B. 20 would create a ‘Border Protection Unit’ to conduct immigration enforcement, which the state has no constitutional authority to do. The newest version of the bill passed as an amendment to H.B. 7. 
  • H.B. 7 would fund court systems designed to try migrants arrested by Texas state border officers while also continuing to build new barriers along the border. 
  • H.B. 800 would increase lengthy penalties for certain crimes including unknowingly driving an undocumented person in your car. 
  • H.B. 884 would deputize federal Border Patrol agents to enforce state law.

The following quote can be attributed to Bernardo Rafael Cruz, attorney at the ACLU of Texas:

“Texas lawmakers have ignored the fierce opposition from border communities to these anti-immigrant bills since the beginning. Under the cover of night, after H.B. 20 was found to violate House rules, these same lawmakers passed it as an amendment in yet another snub to public input.

These bills are clearly unconstitutional and will endanger public safety. Certain politicians are so unwilling to recognize the humanity in immigrants that they’re treating a humanitarian situation like a war zone. 

Texans do not need a state-sponsored police force harassing our communities because of the color of our skin or the languages we speak. Nor do we support a separate and unequal court system that unfairly targets people based on their perceived immigration status.

These failed border policies have already cost Texans millions of dollars and have achieved no tangible results besides cruelty. Instead, Texas politicians should spend that money at the border on access to clean water, broadband, and better infrastructure. 

If these bills continue to move forward, the federal government must intervene to stop these unlawful attempts to conduct immigration enforcement, which the state has no constitutional authority to do.”