Texas House OKs bill to arrest, deport suspects of illegal immigration

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After hours of debate Tuesday, the Texas House approved Senate Bill 4 — a proposal that creates new state penalties for people who illegally cross into the U.S. through the Texas-Mexico border and allows magistrate judges to order those suspected of illegally entering the U.S. to return to Mexico or face prosecution.

The bill, which has been debated several times in both legislative chambers in recent weeks, passed in the House with an 83-61 vote despite opposition from Democratic lawmakers and rights advocates over concerns the bill has too broad a scope and could potentially affect everyday Texans through the state’s attempt at immigration enforcement.

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.

Rep. Andrew Murr, R - Junction, chair of the House General Investigating Committee, and committee members Rep. Ann Johnson, D - Houston, and Rep. David Spiller, R - Jacksboro, prepare to start a hearing about Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Capitol on Wednesday May 24, 2023.

Spiller, who rejected two dozen proposed amendments, said he felt it was important to advance the bill in the form it arrived from the Senate 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.”

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