The Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), a contentious immigration-enforcement bill, during a recent special legislative session. The bill establishes a state offense for unauthorized entry into Texas, escalating from a class B misdemeanor to a state felony for subsequent offenses. It also allows judges to order migrants returned to a port of entry after obtaining identifying information.
In a swift move, the Senate suspended regular rules to expedite the process, forgoing public testimony. Another bill, Senate Bill 3, allocating over $1.5 billion for border barrier construction, also received Senate approval.
Governor Abbott’s directive prompted these bills, addressing immigration and border security. SB 4 has faced prior challenges due to Republican infighting, but this quick Senate action pushes the bills to the Texas House. The proposed measures have raised concerns about conflicts with federal law and potential constitutional issues, particularly regarding racial profiling and financial burdens on counties.
The House is set to discuss the border funding bill (House Bill 3), while SB 4 moves to the full House, where amendments may be proposed by Democrats.