Texas

Border security is the #2 priority for Texas Republicans ahead of the 88th Legislature.

McALLEN, TX (Border Report) — A week before the start of the 88th Texas Legislature, Republicans in the Lone Star State made border security a top priority.

Several border-related bills have already been filed ahead of the Jan. 10 session in Austin.

However, according to the organization, the #1 issue for the Texas Republican Party in the upcoming session is accountability in elections. Their other top priorities include:

  • The prohibition of changing the sex of children.
  • Protect children from explicit, harmful and “obscene” material.
  • Prevent Democrats from chairing committees in the Republican-controlled Texas legislature.
  • Cancel all abortions in Texas.
  • Protect gun rights.
  • Improve school choice.

During the 87th Legislature in 2021, border security was not even a Texas Republican priority.

But political observers say it’s an issue that has united Republicans in the past couple of years and helped them win recent elections, even though the predicted “red wave” in November didn’t happen across the state.

“That’s definitely from Gov. Abbott’s point of view and from the point of view of the Republicans in the Legislature, I think that’s something they can win at,” University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley political science lecturer Andrew Smith said Tuesday.

“That’s what the Republicans believe. It’s a calculated risk, but Republicans look at the Texas election results and think border security is something they can win on, perhaps more than on other issues,” Smith said.

A line of migrants just released from the Department of Homeland Security on October 24, 2022 wait for help in downtown McAllen, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

November 14 was the first day that invoices for the upcoming session could be officially filed, and many of them are still received daily. Some of them so far have to do with border security and how to fund Texas’ aggressive border security initiative known as Operation Lone Star.

Texas legislators have approved more than $4 billion in funding for Operation Lone Star and are expected to increase that amount in the upcoming five-month session. The effort includes the construction of Texas’ own state-funded border wall that began in rural Starr County in South Texas.

Texas built nearly 2 miles of state-funded border wall in rural Starr County. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

“It looks like the Texas Republicans are more united on Operation Lone Star and border security, so I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly,” Smith said.

Bills must be filed by March 10, and committee hearings will begin on March 11. The following border-related bills have been submitted:

  • HB 209 – will create a special fund to pay for border security projects. If accepted, it would be established in the public treasury outside the general revenue fund and allowed to accept gifts or crowdsourced border security donations. Operation Lone Star and the construction of the government-funded border wall are partly funded by donations raised by the Governor’s office.
  • SB 237 and HB 82 – an interstate agreement on border security and immigration enforcement will be concluded with other states. The treaty will only be concluded if it receives the permission of the US Congress. Making a deal is one of the Texas Republican Party’s top priorities.
  • HB 434, SB 155, and HB 90 will provide benefits to select members of the Texas military who serve on the Texas-Mexico border and their survivors.
  • SB 242 – Will require monthly reports from the Attorney General’s Office of any federal lawsuits relating to border security in Texas.

The 140-day regular session will end on May 29.

Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]

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