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HB-20 is a “Vigilante Death Squads Policy": Texas Republicans want citizens to arrest immigrants

This is disgusting.

Texan lawmakers are proposing the creation of a state security force to patrol the US-Mexico border. Critics have described the proposal as a "vigilante death squad policy."

The Republican speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Dade Phelan, told the Texas Public Policy Foundation that he intends to introduce legislation that will "make national headlines and change the conversation on border security," according to The Intercept.

As a result of House Bill 20, Texas' Department of Public Safety can now hunt, arrest, and deport undocumented migrants.

“Sometime next week,” Phelan vowed, “we are going to file a bill that is, I hope, going to make national headlines and change the conversation on border security, and hopefully take the battle all the way to the Supreme Court and allow Texas to protect its own border.”

The unit will be based at the border and run by a chief who is appointed by the governor, and will oversee a mix of law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens who have been locally recruited.

The members of this unit will be immune from criminal prosecution and lawsuits while they “arrest, detain, and deter individuals crossing the border illegally including with the use of non-deadly force.” They will also “use force to repel, arrest, and detain known transnational cartel operatives in the border region.” It is possible for private citizens to arrest people if they are “trained and specifically authorized by the governor.”

The group will also apparently be authorised to "use force to repel, arrest, and detain known transnational cartel operatives in the border region."

Texas Senate legislation if passed would make undocumented entry into Texas a state crime, punishable by a year in prison for first-time offenders, two years for second-time offenders, and life for those with a prior felony conviction.

There will be a reauthorization vote in Texas in 2030, at which point the unit will exist until at least 2030. Republican lawmakers have dubbed the bill the “Border Protection Unit Act” while Texas Democrats referred to it as the “vigilante death squads policy.”

“This dangerous, radical, and unconstitutional proposal which empowers border vigilantes to hunt migrants and racially profile Latinos is going to result in the death of innocent people,” Victoria Neave Criado, the Democratic chair of Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said in a statement. “MALC is going to do everything in our power to kill this legislation just as Latino State Representatives for the past 5 decades have fought against Klan-like proposals.”

HB-20, if passed, will directly endanger Latinos in Texas. This degree of white supremacist vigilantism that Republicans are proposing to implement is something that this country is intimately familiar with; it is a recurring theme in our nation's history.


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