Earlier this week immigrant rights groups spoke out against H.B. 7 and H.B. 800, extreme anti-immigrant bills that could establish Texas’s own border patrol unit, increase criminal penalties for anyone who transports undocumented people near border areas, and fund a costly and unjust separate court system to prosecute migrants and border residents.
Fátima Menéndez, Southwest Regional Counsel at MALDEF: “Once again, Texas lawmakers are seeking to create their own set of immigration rules that do little to address the reality on the ground. House Bill 7 is a dangerous and harmful piece of legislation that will authorize commissioned officers in a newly-created Texas Border Protection Unit to perform functions that are the sole responsibility of the federal government. MALDEF opposes this legislation and other legislation that runs contrary to established U.S. Supreme Court precedent and that will open the door to abuses of immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants.”
Nicholas Hudson, Policy & Advocacy Strategist at the ACLU of Texas: “H.B. 800 proposes billions in wasteful prison spending through implementation of harsh, inflexible 10-year mandatory minimums that will make all Texans less safe.”
Kristin Etter, Special Project Director – Operation Lone Star – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: “An unequal, substandard ad hoc criminal justice system has already been effectuated since Operation Lone Star began in 2021, where migrants face significant and systemic human rights and due process violations. HB 7’s creation of a formalized separate and substandard unequal police force and criminal justice system that targets migrants poses a significant threat to the rule of law to everyone.
“HB 800 would ensnare young, vulnerable, and naïve Texas teenagers and adults who have been lured on social media to provide a ride to people near the border, like an Uber service or a Texas government-chartered bus, and punish them with mandatory minimum punishment ranges higher than murder charges.”
Alexis Elicerio, Civic Engagement Organizer at La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE): “At an early age, I felt the dread of something so horrible happening to my own family and it is something that no family deserves to be done to them. I am today at the age of 25, fighting against bills that would continue and worsen that kind of fear among so many families living in our communities, families like my own.”
Betty Camargo, State Programs Director at the Border Network for Human Rights and Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA) Coordinator: “These latest legislative attacks against our communities, people, and American values are solely based on a shameful racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-refugee ideology. Most importantly, it is essential to recognize that neither of these bills act alone but instead form part of an ill-crafted strategy to grant the state of Texas unprecedented authority to arrest, criminalize, and mass incarcerate migrants, refugees, people of color, and Texas border residents.”
Bee Moorhead, Executive Director of Texas Impact: “People of all faiths affirm the call to welcome the sojourner, but today in Texas, legislators— many of them ardent believers—have forgotten the call of Scripture to welcome strangers, not repel and resist them. Instead of solving actual problems confronting Texas families and communities, these bills would harm our already-suffering siblings, including children crossing the border alone. They would destroy trust in our communities, and threaten our congregations and ministries that aid those in need.”