Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) filed House Bill (HB) 1491, which would mandate screening for anyone entering Texas during a “federally declared public health emergency.”
HB 1491 would require anyone who entered Texas illegally under those circumstances to be “removed to the country from which they entered the United States, or their country of origin, or another location as practicable, as rapidly as possible, with as little time spent in congregate settings as practicable under the circumstances.”
In comments on Chad Hasty’s radio show, Abbott expressed his support for the plan.
“There is a proposal that I support where Texas would adopt its own Title 42 policy to either prevent people from coming into the country illegally into the State of Texas or to return them back because we have a public health declaration in the State of Texas that would authorize us to turn them back,” Abbott said.
In a news release, Harrison called COVID-19 executive orders an “unjustified public health emergency” that makes the State of Texas “completely justified” in implementing its own Title 42 expulsions.
“Governor Abbott is exactly right to call for the Texas Legislature to pass a Texas Title 42 Act. Texas must use every tool available to save America from the crisis that is ravaging the border and threatening our national security with over 250,000 illegal crossings last month alone,” Harrison said.
Abbott has been hesitant to say that Texas should expel illegal immigrants on its own due to case law that makes border enforcement a federal responsibility.
Harrison, former chief of staff to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration, said he was “proud to file the Texas Title 42 Act to authorize Governor Abbott to lead Texas in doing what the federal government won’t: immediately deport illegal migrants and secure the border.”
The federal Title 42 public health order is still being enforced due to a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court on the decision of a judge in Washington, D.C. to terminate the order. The nation’s high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case in March.
In its monthly operational update, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 251,487 enforcement encounters with illegal immigrants along the southern U.S. border in December. 14 percent of those were with people who had already been encountered in the preceding 12 months.
A copy of Harrison’s bill can be found below.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."