Bipartisan bill, HB 11, addresses border security

Eleanor Dearman

A bill proposed Monday would set new procedures for border security, including outbound checkpoints along the border. 

Texas legislators proposed a multifaceted bill, HB 11, that would permit the hiring of more Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and create police checkpoints when crossing the border to Mexico.

“Crime that comes through the border rarely stays at the border,” said Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), primary author of the bill. “It finds its way into communities across Texas and the rest of the nation — where human beings are exploited for profit and lives are ruined by drug addiction. Border crime is not just a border problem. It is a Texas problem, and it requires a statewide response.

According to the bill, the checkpoints would only be on southbound roads in order to check for human trafficking violations, bulk currency and the transporting of weapons. The checkpoints would be located within 250 feet of the U.S.-Mexico border and on highways that cross the border. 

HB 11 also would establish “[encouraging] or [inducing] a person to enter or remain in this country” as a felony.  

The bill would establish procedure for crime-statistics reporting, creates a 50-hour work week standard for DPS officers and forms an “Officer Reserve Corps” within the DPS to conduct “background investigations, sex offender compliance checks, and other duties. 

Bonnen authored the bipartisan bill, which 75 members of the House co-authored. There is an identical Senate bill, which Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) authored. 

Bonnen held a press conference with his co-authors Monday to discuss the bill. At the conference, Bonnen did not provide a cost for the bill’s policies if it were to pass. Currently, the House and Senate’s border budgets are about $400 million and $815 million, respectively. Bonnen said border security funding has more than tripled over the past six years. 

“We’ve stretched more than our financial resources to make up for Washington’s failure,” Bonnen said. “We’ve also put a heavy burden on state and local law enforcement asking DPS troopers to travel from other parts of the state to help, leaving their own communities a little less secure.”

At the conference, Bonnen said the bill is meant to address border security — not immigration reform.

“This is simply about securing our border,” Bonnen said. “We don’t get into the issue of immigration.”