Texans are looking at a new law to help combat unchecked border crossings that would deputize citizens to help patrol and even arrest illegal immigrants. While the proposed legislation has a lot of support, it also has opponents, many of whom claim it will victimize people of color. But Texas isn’t the first state to call its citizens into action.
What Is the Border Protection Unit?
House Bill 20, introduced by Republican Matt Schaefer, intends to create a Border Protection Unit whose “officers” can “arrest, apprehend, or detain persons crossing the Texas-Mexico border unlawfully, and deter persons attempting to cross the border unlawfully, including with the use of non-deadly crowd control measures.” The bill quotes Section 10 of Article 1 of the US Constitution and refers to the state finding itself in “imminent danger” and has the “authority” to create protection. The Constitution says states can’t “keep troops” or “engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger.”
According to the bill, to be part of the unit, the person must have a peace officer license; however, as The Texas Tribune pointed out, “the unit’s chief – who would be appointed by the governor – may employ civilians who could have arrest powers only if the state has trained them and either the state public safety commission or the governor has authorized it.”
Other provisions in the bill make it a third-degree felony with a $10,000 potential fine for migrants who trespass on private property in the Lone Star State and, if another COVID-19-type health emergency is declared by the federal government, the state could remove illegal immigrants “as rapidly as possible.” The Border Protection Unit, if the proposal is approved, is scheduled to remain until Dec. 31, 2030, unless more funding is approved to go beyond.
Last week, nearly 300 people signed up to speak out against the bill, including a nine-year-old boy who volunteers at one of the migrant welcome shelters, and only about 30 showed in support. The youngster, Asher Vargas, said he helps because of people like his grandmother who migrated to the United States. He said the proposal “would make it harder for them, which is not very kind. Do you want to be known as a hateful or unwelcoming state? I know I don’t.”
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said House Bill 20 “is an egregious assault on our basic civil liberties and our core values as a nation of immigrants. As we have seen in past iterations of this racist, fear-mongering concept, ‘Show Me Your Papers’ laws only stand to inflict constant anxiety and mental trauma upon all people who even look like they could be undocumented immigrants – whatever that means.”
The state has already spent “more than $4 billion to slow the number of migrants crossing and sent thousands of Department of Public Safety troopers and National Guard service members to the border,” The Tribune reported. In addition, “hundreds of millions of dollars” have been spent to erect a state-funded border wall and to prosecute migrants who have crossed illegally.
Joshua Treviño, the chief of intelligence and research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, testified before the committee. “Texas must step up with its full constitutional powers brought to bear,” he said. “HB 20 is a positive effort in that direction. It is a necessary first step and we, therefore, urge its passage.”
In addition to human trafficking, one of the big concerns with the Democrats’ “open border” policy is drug trafficking. The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute in Washington, DC, reported an increase of more than 500% of fentanyl seizures at the southern border between 2019 and 2022. But then, Cato Institute claims “the majority of fentanyl is being trafficked into the country mostly through ports of entry by U.S. citizens,” The Tribune wrote.
Schaefer, who introduced the border bill, asked the audience: “How many more people will die from fentanyl poisoning? How many more landowners suffer damage to property from trespassers and smugglers?”
Is it Legal?
Victor Manjarrez, director of the Center for Law and Human Behavior at UT-El Paso, claims it is not. He says the bill “is problematic because an illegal crossing is first an immigration issue, second a customs issue. The state bill is going to bestow that on them. And they can’t, because that is not a state jurisdiction.”
But this isn’t the first time the Lone Star State has called upon its citizens to help in illegal migration control. In 2021, the small area of Kinney County (population 3,129) sought to recruit ten former military veterans and law enforcement officers to help stem “illegal invasion,” reported the Texas Signal.
In a paper titled “Citizen Involvement in the Law Enforcement Process: The Case of Community Police Patrols” written in 1971, authors Gary T. Marx and Dane Archer wrote: “When institutions fail to meet felt needs, a number of recurring responses on the part of the communities presumably serviced may be observed. These vary, perhaps in decreasing order of frequency, from passive resignation or withdrawal to reformist and radical politics to efforts to set up wholly new institutions.” It continued with:
“In earlier periods of American history when people felt that there was too much crime, that their persons or property were in danger, that cherished traditions and values were being threatened, and that regular law enforcement officials were not coping with the problem, vigilante-type efforts emerged. The present era is no exception.”
And, in R.M. Brown’s 1969 book The American vigilante tradition, “a recent account lists no fewer than 326 vigilante movements during the past two centuries of American history.”
Some examples from Marx and Dane include:
- “The self-defense guard which organized in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1956. The group’s purpose was to protect its members against the harassment and incursive violence of the Ku Klux Klan. It attracted sixty members and received a charter from the National Rifle Association.”
- “The Crown Heights area of Brooklyn between 1964 and 1966. The group called itself the Maccabees, after a Jewish resistance group which fought to curb Syrian domination in the second and first centuries B.C. Led by Rabbi Samuel A. Schrage, the Maccabees of the 1960s numbered 250 volunteer members and used radio car patrols to report crime and deter potential criminals.”
And in more recent times, remember the “militia” in many cities during the George Floyd riots, citizens who patrolled the streets and protected businesses that had been forced to close during the pandemic shutdowns.
Leaders of the southern border states have been trying to find ways to get the Biden administration and other Democrats to help with the surge of illegal immigrants, so far to no avail. Sending migrants to progressive “sanctuary cities” such as Chicago and New York hasn’t had a lot of success. Whether locals are deputized or act as state militia, the tradition of citizens helping law enforcement where crime is out of control has been part of American culture for centuries.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
Do you have an opinion about this article? We’d love to hear it! If you send your comments to [email protected], we might even publish your edited remarks in our new feature, LN Readers Speak Out. Remember to include the title of the article along with your name, city, and state.
Please respect our republishing guidelines. Republication permission does not equal site endorsement. Click here
Liberty Nation Today:
Trump Indictment Unsealed – Read in Full - Former President Trump indicted on 37 counts. - Read Now!
Woke Climate Alliance on the Run From Red State Attorneys General - Even insurance companies aren’t going to pay for those tap-dancing in a minefield of woke. - Read Now!
Documentgate: Trump Indictment Announced - The former president’s claims of a “witch hunt” may be about to get a huge boost. - Read Now!
Gavin Newsom Hopes to Amend the Second Amendment - The Golden State gun grabber must be California Dreamin'. - Read Now!
Liberty Lampoon - Cartoonist Tom Stiglich will make your day. - Read Now!