Public Hearing Hb 11: Inefficient Use Of Taxpayer Dollars & Criminalization Of Communities

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Public Hearing Hb 11: Inefficient Use Of Taxpayer Dollars & Criminalization Of Communities

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015 8:00 am TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES House Committee of Homeland Security & Public Safety Texas State Capitol, Room E2.012 THE PROBLEM WITH HB 11/SB 3: • Facilitates a massive increase of Texas’ expenditures on border security, proposing to hire hundreds of new DPS personnel in a rapid and expensive fashion without training, accountability and oversight. • Would duplicate federal efforts in mandating southbound check points by DPS. • Would criminalize ANYONE who works with, lives with, and helps an undocumented immigrant. THE KEY POINTS: • The Border ‘Crisis’ is Not Real. Crime rates for border communities in Texas, such as El Paso, Laredo, and in the Rio Grande Valley, are consistently below statewide averages. Moreover, immigrants are nearly 30 percent less of the state’s prison population than they are of Texas as a whole. And, cartel-related violence has dropped dramatically in Mexico, and has never had any widespread spillover into Texas. There simply is no substance to the widespread fear of the border. • HB 11/SB 3 will spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on law enforcement approaches that have not worked, and which will not work in the future. “Operation Strong Safety” has failed to reduce supplies of illicit drugs entering Texas. It has failed to reduce migrant death rates. Other efforts to create state and local border enforcement have only resulted in law enforcement pointlessly harassing the communities they are supposed to serve. These are unacceptable models to serve as a basis for spending another $800 million on state border enforcement efforts and cannot be the blueprint for Texas’ future. • HB 11/SB 3 will sap law enforcement resources from other cities and counties in Texas. Because of the ‘surge’ nature of the proposed DPS border deployments, this legislation specifically creates language that makes it easier for DPS to poach the resources of cities and counties throughout the state. Taxpayers will effectively be double taxed to subsidize DPS—paying locally for training that ends up benefitting DPS’ bottom line, and then again to deploy these personnel on DPS’ behalf. This legislation turns local budgets into a shell game where the only beneficiary is DPS. • HB 11/SB 3 will waste hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a crisis that does not exist, while ignoring real problems with criminal activity in the Texas interior. Crime rates on the border are consistently below statewide averages, whether urban or rural, big cities or small towns. The highest crime rates in Texas are not on the border—they are in communities like Galveston, Midland-Odessa, Waco, and Corpus Christi, which are ignored by this legislation and by this legislature. These are the places that need additional law enforcement spending. • The bill states that “encouraging or inducing” and “concealing, harboring, or shielding” the presence of an undocumented immigrant in the U.S will be a felony. This would make those individuals like pastors and social service providers, who work to provide food and shelter for migrant women, and children, and families, and workers, potential felons in the eyes of the State of Texas because they believed that everyone, no matter how they got here, deserves to have the basic comforts of food, water, and a roof over one’s head. Does a grandchild become a felon when they bring groceries to their undocumented grandmother? Does a husband become a felon because his wife lacks proper papers? If relationships of close kin are protected, how far through one’s family tree do these protections extend? Certainly, it would not seem a worthwhile aim of the state to criminalize these families, to break-up these relationships, to punish those who seek to alleviate suffering, but such outcomes also seem unavoidable. These are scary prospects, and ones we must avoid at all cost. • Ports-of-entry along the U.S.-Mexico border already have existing, federally run southbound checkpoints to do precisely what the legislation aims to tackle. Throwing state money at such efforts is needlessly duplicative, particularly when the federal government has not requested state assistance, or given state law enforcement any particular charge or focus for such efforts. Moreover, poorly run southbound checkpoints could incur a serious economic cost on Texas businesses reliant on trade with Mexico. THE SOLUTION: • Do not accept hasty policy designed to meet emergencies that do not exist. • Leave border enforcement to the appropriate federal agencies. • Protect victims of crime and human trafficking without regard to immigration status. • Engage and work with immigrant communities and border residents to develop policy that best meets their needs rather than impose expensive and destructive measures upon them.

By: Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA)

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