EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – An immigration bill that would allow Texas police officers to send migrants who cross illegally back across the border passed in the Texas House early Thursday, Oct. 26.
The bill also creates new state criminal charges for migrants who enter the country illegally.
After hours of debating in the Texas House, a Republican made a motion to block new amendments that would end the debate sooner and led to a heated discussion during a break.
“I can’t go to a baptism because my community’s being attacked, you all don’t understand that (expletive), it hurts our community it hurts us, bro, it hurts us,” state Rep. Armando Lucio Walle, D-Houston, said to a group of Republican representatives on the House floor.
“It hurts us to our (explicit) core, and you all don’t understand that you don’t live in our skin,” Walle said.
State Rep. Cody Harris, R-Palestine, spoke after Walle’s comments.
“There’s not a person in these chambers who wishes we were dealing with this topic. It’s the federal government’s responsibility to secure our border and they have refused to do that, so it’s left for us to deal with and that’s what we are going to do,” said Harris.
Harris says Republicans weren’t trying to shut down debate over the bill.
“And like I said, this is a very hot topic that people are passionate about on both sides of the issue. We recognize that that’s why we weren’t trying to shut off debate. The debate is an important right,” said Harris.
State Rep. Lina Ortega, D-El Paso, sent a statement following the passage of House Bill 4: “This bill dehumanizes immigrants and promotes intimidation and fear throughout communities like mine. The legislature has no role in enforcing immigration laws, and it is shameful that the House repeatedly targets immigrant communities for political gain.”
Border Network for Human Rights says they are issuing a human and civil rights warning to the state of Texas.
“This warning is an acknowledgment of the imminent threat that lingers on the human and civil rights of Texans of color, border residents and vulnerable people,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of BNHR.
HB4 along with two other immigration bills were passed in the House and must now go to the Senate.