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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Bay

Top 3 Immigration Issues To Watch This Legislative Session


The border is not a war zone. We know the real needs of our gente – accessible healthcare, affordable housing, disaster preparedness, and more investment in education. Yet instead of getting this, we get political ploys from Governor Abbott through Operation Lone Star. These tactics do not address the real immigration issue at the border: a humanitarian crisis that requires a humanitarian response. This 88th Legislative Session, the Beyond Borders team is excited to rally alongside our partners against racist and anti-immigrant legislation and support bills that actually help our Texas communities thrive.

Stop the Codification and Expansion of Operation Lone Star

Operation Lone Star (OLS) is an anti-immigrant political ploy that has so far spent $4.4 billion in taxpayer dollars to fund: a state border wall (which people who live on the border don't want); millions in overtime pay for state troopers to overrun small rural communities, and expanding jails and courts to lock up migrants for "trespassing," none of which have resulted in any benefits for Texans.

Despite this, the Texas legislature is considering adding over $4.8 billion in funding for Operation Lone Star over the next two years. As we keep an eye on this funding plan and other Operation Lone Star-related bills, our top priorities will be to:

  1. FIght so that not one more dime is wasted on this scheme.

  2. Reject any attempt to codify OLS into law or expand it, including legislation that would create new criminal infractions tied to OLS

  3. Resist any bills attempting to build a wall on our southern border by expanding eminent domain powers of the state.

  4. Stop initiatives that allow Texas peace officers to become immigration enforcement. This power lies with the federal government.

Promote legislation that adds transparency & accountability to the Governor’s ad hoc use of emergency powers to create & expand Operation Lone Star.

No New Anti-Immigrant Attacks

Laws that demonize people who were born elsewhere and came seeking a better life in our country—whether they arrived yesterday or 20 years ago—have no place in Texas. For example, lawmakers have filed SB 147, a law that would prohibit individuals from acquiring property in the state based on their nationality during this session, specifically targeting immigrants of Chinese descent. This kind of exclusionary legislation is racist, xenophobic, and harms immigrant communities.

Additionally, we have also seen proposals to prohibit people of specific origins from entering the country through Texas (HB 1491); this would pass a "Texas version" of Title 42, a CDC policy put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to allow removal of immigrants at the border without any chance to request asylum. There have been over 2.5 million expulsions of protection-seeking immigrants, mostly to Mexico, where they are at risk of extortion, sexual and physical assault, and kidnapping.

We will reject any attempt to pass a bill similar to Title 42 in Texas. It would continue the humanitarian crisis at the border and strain border communities, which shoulder much of the humanitarian response to this senseless policy.

Protesters carrying signs in support of "Dreams Without Borders".

Support Thriving Border Communities & Colonias

We have seen border walls rip apart our land, surveillance drones and blimps cloud our skies, and law enforcement all over our communities on the border. We call for legislation that addresses the real issues at the border:

  1. Bills providing more resources to colonias. Especially funding to assist those who have lost homes to storms.

  2. Protect and expand the Texas DREAM Act.

  3. Driver’s permits for undocumented individuals to be able to drive with peace of mind.

  4. Reject bills limiting or restricting immigrants accessing learner’s permits or a driver’s license.

  5. Stop criminalizing humanitarian relief organizations and instead support them in addressing the human rights crisis at the border.

  6. We support bills that would improve border health and create more accessible pathways for border residents to receive the care they need.

  7. Pass language accessibility laws requiring public documents from state and local agencies be Spanish and other languages.

  8. Our communities are prone to flooding, especially with proximity to the Rio Grande. There needs to be more resources towards emergency preparedness not only for flooding, but drought, record heat every year, and unprecedented freezes.

We are providing weekly updates on relevant bills related to our priorities. If you would like to receive Beyond Borders Legislative updates, sign up here.

For general questions on Beyond Border’s legislative work, contact Roberto Lopez (robert@texascivilrightsproject.org) or Alexis Bay (bay@texascivilrightsproject.org). For media inquiries, contact media@texascivilrightsproject.org.

Further reading:

https://news.txcivilrights.org/2023/01/27/tcrps-priorities-at-the-88th-texas-legislative-session-this-year/

https://news.txcivilrights.org/2023/01/20/criminal-injustice-issues-this-lege-session/

https://news.txcivilrights.org/2023/02/02/voting-rights-issues-in-texas-this-session/

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