Phelan, Patrick Clash Over Border Bill

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick | Image by Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan took shots at each other in a string of social media posts on Thursday over a border bill being considered by lawmakers during this year’s third special session.

The session is scheduled to end on Tuesday, and there is just one border security bill that could pass in time.

HB 4, sponsored by Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro), would allow local and state law enforcement officers to arrest suspected unlawful migrants at any time and any place.

The bill was passed by the House, and a Senate committee advanced the bill. The Senate committee removed a component of the law that allowed state and local officers to escort suspects back to the port of entry from which the foreign national originated, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The full Senate is expected to consider the bill on Sunday, but Patrick has expressed his dislike for the House version of the bill.

Patrick began a social media thread on Thursday, claiming Phelan (R-Beaumont) was “desperate to improve his border credentials with conservatives.”

“The bill’s author claimed it’s the toughest border bill ever, but it is simply a Texas-sized catch-and-release bill,” Patrick posted.

“The House version of HB4 does not require proper identification of suspects, fingerprints, or a background check and allows illegal border crossers to return whenever they want, time and time again. Even if returned to the border, this policy would allow unidentified hardened criminals and terrorists to slip through the cracks and cross the border over and over again,” continued Patrick in a subsequent post.

Phelan fired back in a statement, writing, “The Lt. Governor’s statement is a desperate bid to salvage what’s left of his credibility on border security this special session.”

“Dan Patrick’s baseless critique of House Bill 4 is a transparent attempt to deflect from his chamber’s own impotent response to the growing crisis at our border — a crisis demanding decisive action, not the ineffective strategies being peddled by the Senate,” wrote Phelan.

The critiques did not stop there, as Patrick once again followed up with another post claiming Phelan has “become nothing more than hot air.”

“You can peddle your nonsense all day, but the truth is your version of HB4 does not require fingerprints or a background check of anyone detained. That means you don’t know who you are sending back to the port of entry,” Patrick wrote.

“If someone is a terrorist or a serious felon, they’ll be more than happy to take you up on your offer of avoiding arrest and hitching a ride back to the port of entry rather than getting fingerprinted or having a background check run on them. Your bill creates a revolving door so people can come back any time they want using a different name because there’s no record of who you sent back,” he continued.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, authorities at the border have been logging more and more encounters with foreign nationals from across the world, including countries like Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. Additionally, there has been an increase in encounters with individuals on the FBI’s terror watchlist.

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