PROMO Miscellaneous - Migrants Refugees Border Immigration - iStock - Naeblys

Civil rights groups call Texas' proposed laws, razor wire dehumanizing

© iStock - Naeblys
Roz Brown

(Texas News Service) A set of border security bills under consideration by Texas lawmakers will cause harm to migrants, residents, and state law, according to a state civil rights group. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is opposed to Senate Bill 11, which would make it a state crime for illegally entering Texas from Mexico, and authorize state police to arrest violators. 

It's similar to legislation that failed to pass in an earlier session this year. 

Traditionally, the Texas Legislature met every other year - but this is the third time lawmakers have convened in 2023. 

ACLU Senior Staff Attorney David Donatti said the never-ending sessions are relentless and exhausting voters.

"A part of what makes it feel so relentless is that this is a special legislative session," said Donatti, "and it is perplexing and troubling, and not the way that the Texas Constitution or laws envisioning lawmaking in the state is supposed to happen."

Donatti said Texas should treat immigration like the human right that it is and create a humane, fair and welcoming process - instead of dehumanizing narratives. 

The bills have bogged down due to infighting, and the special session will end tomorrow. Should they pass, Donatti said citizens and non-citizens could be subjected to racial profiling and harassment.

Earlier this year Texas began deploying chains of specially designed buoys down the middle of the Rio Grande River to deter migrants from crossing illegally. 

Another deterrent used is "concertina" or razor wire - which Donatti said he's witnessed.

"I've been on the border and I have seen the concertina wire, and I've not only seen the concertina wire I've seen families separated by the concertina wire," said Donatti. "And it really defies all common sense - and it defies all humanity."

Last week a judge ordered federal border patrol agents not to interfere with razor wire that Texas has installed. A second hearing in the case is scheduled for this week. 

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.