Texas state Republicans are pushing legislation to make illegal entry from Mexico a felony, a move that comes as Texas lawmakers accuse the Biden administration of leaving border states to fend for themselves against the immigration crisis.
The bill from Republican state representative Matt Schaefer would also create a “Border Protection Unit,” a larger state border patrol team to address the surge in migrants, Fox News reported. The bill must pass the legislature before the end of May to become law.
The Border Protection Unit would be headed by a governor-appointed unit chief, who could recruit a militia of civilians without felony convictions to “participate in unit operations and functions.” Illegal immigrants who are arrested could face up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
“Right now we can use all the help and any help at all that we can get, because we’re being overrun down here and on the borders,” said Zavala County sheriff Eusevio Salinas.
The proposed bill comes after Texas Republicans pressed the Biden administration to reimburse the state for its efforts to tackle the border crisis through Operation Lone Star.