In testimony before the Texas House State Affairs Committee, Texas Deputy Attorney General Brantley Starr encouraged state lawmakers to take a more active role in immigration enforcement, saying well-crafted state regulations could help stem the effects of the Obama administration’s policies on illegal immigration.
According to The Texas Tribune, while Starr told the assembly that “foreign policy and related matters, such as immigration, are one of the few enumerated powers the federal government has,” he added that as long as a state law did not preclude the federal government from carrying out its responsibilities on immigration, it should pass legal muster.
“You do have the ability to create state-level offenses that have an immigration element to them as long as they are sufficiently unique,” Starr said during last week’s hearing.
Texas has been at the forefront of challenging President Barack Obama’s policies on immigration. Last year, Texas’ then-attorney general, current Gov. Greg Abbott, was the first attorney general in the nation to file suit against the president’s executive actions on immigration.
As governor, Abbott also signed in House Bill 11, an omnibus bill on immigration that Starr said should serve as a template for future efforts at the state level to limit illegal immigration.
Among other things, House Bill 11 made it a felony to transport someone across the border for pay.
“There were new state-level elements to that offense (in) that you’re taking money in exchange for bringing someone across the border illegally,” Starr said. “And the addition of the new state-level elements to that offense made it sufficiently unique.”
He added that he felt that the law would hold up to legal challenge should there be any.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told the committee that the new laws were already helping stem the tide against illegal immigration.
“With Border Patrol and the U.S. Attorney’s office, it was too low under their threshold,” McCraw said. “(The state) can go to the district attorney’s office and say, ‘Wait a minute,’ and the district attorney took that offense.” Read More