Over the past few months, over a dozen immigration bills have been filed in the Texas legislature by lawmakers who are intent on getting tough on immigration. Most of the pieces of legislation are essentially carbon copies of bills that have been proposed in other state legislatures — namely Arizona’s. However, state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R) has introduced a bill that, to its credit, is certainly original. Kolkhorst’s legislation would allow local law enforcement officials to drop off undocumented immigrants at the doorstep of any U.S. senator or representative. The bill reads:
A law enforcement agency that has custody of an illegal immigrant to whom this article applies may:
(1) release or discharge the illegal immigrant at the office of a United States senator or United States representative during that office ’s normal business hours; and
(2) request an agent or employee of the United States senator or United States representative to sign a document acknowledging the release or discharge of the illegal immigrant at the senator ’s or representative ’s office.
The proposed bill only applies to undocumented immigrants who are about to be released on bail or discharged after completing a sentence. Meanwhile, it doesn’t provide any guidance on what a lawmaker should do with them.
“I want to address the point legally,” Kolkhorst told reporters. In a press release, she stated, “If passed, federal lawmakers may get some real-life examples of the severity of the problem facing our constituents and local law enforcement. The bill will spotlight parts of Texas where federal authorities are not enforcing their own immigration law.” “I want us to take these illegal immigrants in custody to a congressman’s office and say, ‘ We don’t know what to do with these people. Do you?,” she stated. Austin County Sheriff DeWayne Burger, who wishes the federal government would pick up more undocumented immigrants, called it a “feel good” law.
Of course, the law doesn’t really solve anything. It might embarrass a few lawmakers at the expense of the undocumented immigrants who are handed over and the taxpayers who have to pay for their transportation to Washington, DC. If Texan state lawmakers were actually serious about fixing the nation’s broken immigration system, they might consider putting pressure on their federal representatives to pass immigration reform. Instead, they’re focused on costly enforcement-only bills and cheap political stunts like Kolkhorst’s.
Meanwhile, thousands of people from all over the state of Texas converged in Austin yesterday to protest the anti-immigrant bills which are currently working their way through the state legislature.
Watch footage of the protests: