88th LegislatureImmigration & BorderIssuesTaxes & SpendingTexas Republicans Lose Bill to Make Illegal Immigration a Crime at State Level

The bill would have made it a state crime to cross the border illegally, including a felony charge for illegal aliens who disobey an order to leave.
May 24, 2023
Texas House Republicans lost a border security bill that would have made illegal immigration a crime at the state level, including a felony penalty for an illegal alien who disobeyed a peace officer’s direction to return to Mexico.

Tuesday was the deadline for the House to pass Senate bills to third reading.

Senate Bill (SB) 2424 was taken up at about 8:50 p.m. The bill sponsor, Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant), began his layout, whereupon Rep. Erin Gamez (D-Brownsville) raised a point of order against the bill.

Gamez withdrew her point of order and Hefner moved to postpone the legislation until later in the night, an indication that Gamez’s point of order likely had merit and Hefner needed time to work something out.

When the ill-fated bill returned to the floor for consideration, Hefner moved to postpone it until after the end of the session, a procedural way of admitting defeat on a piece of legislation.

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SB 2424 would have made it a Class B misdemeanor for a foreign national to cross the southern border unlawfully. A repeat offense could be charged as a state jail felony. It would have further made it a second-degree felony for an illegal alien to disobey an order from a peace officer to return to Mexico.

Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) carried the bill in the Senate, where it was passed on third reading by a vote of 18 to 12. Sen. Phil King (R-Weatherford) had an excused absence.

Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) railed against Republican leadership on social media, accusing Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine) of ignoring his objection to postpone the bill.

“Tonight, I objected to the postponement of SB 2424 from the back mic. This is a border security bill that Republicans just killed in the house with a procedural move,” Tinderholt tweeted.

“I yelled my objection to the postponement and the speaker refused to turn the mic on, shook his head, and gaveled the motion through. This is how conservative priorities die in the Texas House.”

The expiration of SB 2424 was not the first time Republicans lost a border security bill to a point of order. Rep. Matt Schaefer’s (R-Tyler) legislation to create the Texas Border Protection Unit and declare an “invasion” was lost after a point of order by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas).

Some provisions of Schaefer’s bill were included in House Bill (HB) 7 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City). The Senate’s amendments to HB 7 are awaiting approval in the House.

Democrats have successfully used points of order this session to delay and even defeat several GOP bills. A point of order is a motion made by a member on suspicion that the House’s rules have been violated. The speaker has the option of sustaining or overruling the point of order after receiving advice from the parliamentarian.

There have been more points of order this session by Republicans and Democrats than in any session since the regular legislative session in 2007.


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Hayden Sparks

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."