The Texas House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to pass two bills focusing on Gov. Greg Abbott’s priority of border security.
Abbott previously announced that border security would be a priority for the Texas Legislature during the fourth special session, leading the House and Senate to pass Senate Bills 3 and 4.
The House passed SB 3 with an 84-59 vote, and it will now be sent back to the Senate due to adding one amendment.
SB 3 would set aside $1.54 billion to create and manage a wall along the Texas-Mexico border, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Additionally, the bill would provide $40 million to the Texas Department of Public Safety to help pay for state troopers’ overtime hours.
One amendment, brought forward by Rep. Tracy King (D-Uvalde), was added to the bill that would allow the funds to be used by local governments enforcing a new state crime introduced in SBl 4, according to The Texas Tribune.
SB 4 makes unlawful entry into the state a misdemeanor crime and allows law enforcement officers to apprehend those suspected of committing this crime, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The arresting officer would then take the suspect to a magistrate for fingerprinting and to be photographed. A judge then determines whether the suspect will be sent to a state jail or deported via a port of entry, per NBC 5 DFW.
A previous version of this bill allowed the arresting officer to return the suspect to the port of entry without fingerprint or photograph identification, but this portion was removed due to constitutional concerns.
Prior to voting on the legislation, House members approved a “call to the previous question,” which limited the amount of debate allowed before voting on the bill, per NBC 5.
Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro), the sponsor of the bill, said during the discussion that his goal was “to get this bill passed, and get it passed cleanly, and get it on the governor’s desk” as quickly as possible, per The Texas Tribune.
By the end of the debate, SB 4 was passed with a vote of 83-61 and will be sent to Gov. Abbott for final approval.
Officials from around the state have mixed opinions about the bill, however.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the bill’s passing was a success since “Texas must take matters into our own hands to keep our state safe.”
“With the changes made and agreed to this week, once signed by the Governor, this bill will be, without question, the strongest stand that any state has taken to protect its citizens and its sovereignty,” added Patrick.
“Our founders could never have imagined that any president would abdicate his constitutional duty to protect our borders and our citizens.”
On the other hand, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa, said in a statement that the bill is “anti-migrant, dangerous and unconstitutional.”
“This will not fix the real security issues along the southern border. This will not keep Texans safe. This will do nothing but rip families apart and overcrowd our prisons – which is what Texas Republicans do best,” said Hinojosa.