Thursday, November 16, 2023

House OKs Racial Profiling, anti-immigrant SB 4 along party lines & Donald Trump is Headed to the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend

Tuesday night's vote for Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) was disheartening. When we say that Texas is very much looking like a fascist state, this is not at all hyperbole but increasingly a lived dystopian reality. 

In brief, this is a border criminalization bill that imposes harsh consequences for individuals entering the nation, with penalties ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, contingent on factors such as the frequency of reentry.

This follows the passage this week of SB 3, a $1.54 billion plan to construct 50 miles of a state border wall. However, the Senate must give approval to the House's version of the bill that incorporated several amendments.

Governor Abbott will surely sign this premeditated abuse of power embodied in SB 4, potentially, and very likely, violating individual rights under the U.S. Constitution while simultaneously getting enacted in defiance of federal immigration policy. “The power to enforce immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power," expresses State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado (D-Dallas). Republicans don't care as they think they can win this in the Supreme Court. And if it hurts innocent people in the process, so be it. They're all "aliens" anyway, they must reason—which is how the see many Texans, by the way.

Gov. Abbott and House and Senate Republicans will most surely characterize this as one of their crowning achievements. It's racist and white supremacist, of course, especially considering how as per this New York Times piece published this week titled, What It Means to Be a Texan Is Changing in Surprising Ways. The piece is about the ascendancy of Black, Latina/o and Asian people in our state astride the declining population of white people with leadership that seeks and wants Apartheid. 

The irony is that the people that their bills target— including tomorrow's HB 1 voucher bill that will get taken up on Friday—are overwhelmingly people's who are either of this continent of hemisphere. In contrast, those doing the legislating are exact same colonizers of old, of overwhelming Western European descendancy.

This is the kind of history and knowledge that Republicans banned via House Bill 900 in the context of the regular 88th (2023) Texas Legislative Session. Add DEI (SB 17) that passed last session to the list of yet another attack on diversity and the diverse knowledge in higher education to which DEI attaches.

And to top all of this off, because our governor just can't get enough of Donald Trump who currently has 91 charges against him per the Washington Postcheck out this notice of his upcoming visit to Edinburg, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 19th at noon. Read today's piece in the Houston ChronicleDonald Trump heading to the Texas border this weekend for campaign event with Gov. Greg Abbott.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, listens to former President Donald Trump's address during a tour 

to an unfinished section of the border wall on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, in Pharr, Texas.

Brandon Bell/TNS

The advocacy community isn't giving up and rolling over, my friends. And yes, there are people of color, including Blacks and Latinas/os that support all this animus against their own communities. If we understand white supremacy as an ideology, then this redounds precisely to the "color" of one's ideology—much of which is an artifact of manufactured self hatred in some measure created both by what is taught and learned in our schools, as well as by what is not taught or learned.

My main point here is that it all connects. And ultimately, that we need to vote these so-called state leaders out of power. 

-Angela Valenzuela

#SayNoToFascism #Fascism #SB4 #SB3 #SayNoToVouchers

“My task is to get this bill out of here and on the
governor’s desk as soon as possible,” Rep.
David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, said
 of Senate Bill 4. 


House OKs SB 4 along party lines

Measure to let state arrest, deport suspects

The House on Tuesday night passed the bill — which has been debated several times in both legislative chambers in recent weeks — by an 83-61 party line vote despite opposition from Democratic lawmakers and rights advocates over concerns the legislation is too broad and it could potentially affect everyday Texans through the state’s attempt at immigration enforcement.

“Senate Bill 4 is the broadest, most invasive piece of legislation to ever potentially challenge the very nature of our federal and state power,” said Rep.

Victoria Neave Criado, D-Dallas, during the debate over the bill on the House floor Tuesday. “The power to enforce immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.”

“Senate Bill 4 is the broadest, most invasive piece of legislation to ever potentially challenge the very nature of our federal and state power,” said Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, D-Dallas. JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

SB 4 would require people accused of illegally crossing the state’s southern border outside of a port of entry to accept a magistrate judge’s order to return to Mexico or face prosecution, with possible penalties ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a second-degree felony.

Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, who sponsored the bill by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, which advanced to the lower chamber after a late-night Senate session last week, defended the legislation as necessary to address the immigration crisis at the border.

Spiller, who rejected two dozen proposed amendments, said he felt it was important to advance the bill without any changes from the Senate version to not delay it getting to Gov. Greg Abbott to sign into law.

“My task is to get this bill out of here and on the governor’s desk as soon as possible,” Spiller said. “Because if I’m wasting my time and know that it’s going to be a delay, I’m going to have trouble sleeping tonight.”

On Wednesday, Abbott signaled his intent to sign the bill into law, calling the legislation “historic progress.” He and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick congratulated and thanked Spiller and the House for passing the bill, calling it the one of the strongest border security proposals ever passed in Texas.

“SB 4 will require criminal background checks and the collection of fingerprints and photographs of those arrested for crossing the border illegally,” Patrick said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. “The illegal crosser can be jailed or ordered by a magistrate to be returned to the border. If they violate the order and return to Texas, they will face even harsher penalties.”

Opponents of SB 4 argue the legislation is an affront to federal law, gives nonfederal law enforcement officers broad permission to arrest and deport those living in the state who might be accused of having illegally crossed the border, and is an invasion into the lives of the state’s Hispanic and migrant communities.

Neave Criado, who chairs the House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, argued that the bill is a political avenue to challenge U.S. Supreme Court precedent on immigration law.

“SB 4 intends to challenge the decade-long holding of Arizona vs. United States given the new makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Neave Criado said.

Around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, after more than 6 hours of debate, Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, made a parliamentary motion to cut discussion on the bill, allowing the legislation to jump forward to its first vote by the full House.

“This is the same bill that we debated until 4 a.m. just a couple of weeks ago,” Patterson said before the motion was approved along party lines. “Hours and hours and hours of debate on a bill that is critically important to the future of the state.”

Neave Criado, who argued against ending debate on the bill, said: “We won’t be able to have an opportunity to lay out amendments because you’re cutting off our time. You’re cutting off our hands; you’re cutting off our feet; you’re trying to silence our voices.”

After the House moved the bill forward with an initial vote Tuesday, the members then paused and began a new legislative day, allowing the chamber to take a second and final vote on SB 4 that night and advancing it to Abbott to sign into law.

Using the same parliamentary procedure, House members also passed SB 3 — a $1.54 billion proposal to build 50 miles of state border wall — though the Senate will have to sign off on the lower chamber’s version of the bill.

‘Inaccurate arrests may occur’

Despite SB 4 carving out certain locations where law enforcement officers could not target people believed to have illegally entered the country — including in schools, churches, hospitals and facilities that provide forensic medical examinations for sexual assault survivors — Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, tried to codify an amendment to allow an undocumented person to be exempt from arrest while attending a medical treatment or a forensics exam with a family member.

“This is going to prevent people from getting the forensic exam because their family member cannot be there with them, and that is a horrific thing to have to go through,” Howard said before her amendment was rejected along party lines. “We’re willing to send a bill that has this damaging impact without considering adding this amendment, even if it means it delays things a bit. I can’t quite understand that.”

Rep. Salman Bhojani, D-Euless, in a last-ditch effort to limit the bill’s authority, asked lawmakers to include an amendment to require peace officers to verify a person’s immigration status before making an arrest.

He said that without that amendment, the onus is on everyday Texans to prove they belong in the country as opposed to law enforcement officers having the burden to prove that there has been an offense.

The amendment, which Bhojani said was needed to avoid possible instances of racial profiling, failed along party lines with Democrats proposing several changes to the bill before it was finally passed.

“Without proper verification of an individual’s legal status, inaccurate arrests may occur,” Bhojani said. “I would hate to penalize anyone who has followed our laws and has done everything right.”

In closing arguments, many Democrats rose to plead against the bill. Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, reflecting on the many immigration and border fights during his tenure, said Tuesday night’s vote weighed heavily on him and communities across Texas.

“Members, I’ve walked off this floor defeated many times,” Moody said. “And I was telling myself and others around me that I have enough hope to keep fighting, and I’m going to try to tell myself that tonight; I don’t know if I believe it.”

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