Abbott Signs Six Border Security Bills, Including Designating Cartels As Terrorists

On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed six different bills to battle the border crisis plaguing his state — which ranged from designating cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, to creating an interstate compact, to expanding resources for law enforcement.

The Republican governor spoke about the bills after signing them, noting that “Washington, D.C. has failed to do its job to secure our border.”

“As a result, Texas has had to take unprecedented steps in responding to the crisis created by the Biden administration,” he added.

Abbott noted that the “Texas legislature has stepped up” by allocating $5.1 billion to Operation Lone Star, the state’s border security mission, which received $4.5 billion from the legislature in the last session.

According to the Texas governor, the state has spent nearly $10 billion in just two legislative sessions “to deal with the crisis and chaos caused by the Biden administration.”

Operation Lone Star has successfully blocked illegal border crossings in Texas through the use of miles of concertina wire being used as border barriers, alongside the hard work of officers from the Texas Military Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

These strategies have “directly stopped people from entering Texas illegally,” Abbott said.

“Even though we’ve done a lot, we recognize more must be done,” he added, including the six bills he signed that were passed by the legislature with bipartisan support.

Abbott has also revealed that there are more bills expected to be voted on during the special legislative session, but only after the Texas legislature agrees on a measure to provide $18 billion in property tax relief — though Just The News notes that the legislature “remains at an impasse on the issue.”

The first bill signed by the Texas governor on Thursday was SB-1900, which designated Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations — building on a previous executive order from Abbott in September 2022 that did the same thing. This will allow law enforcement and prosecutors to pursue higher penalties for criminal acts, including crimes related to delivering controlled substances or operating a stash house. The bill also allowed law enforcement agencies to add Foreign Terrorist Organizations to their intelligence databases and gave local entities the ability to seek public nuisance claims against these organizations operating in their communities.

The second bill was SB-1484, which authorizes the Texas DPS to train local law enforcement officials “on cartel related activity as well as the best tactics to train on border crimes,” according to Abbott. The legislation would also require DPS to identify avenues where local law enforcement can assist them in securing the border, and expands collaboration between these entities through Operation Lone Star.

The next bill, SB-423, authorizes the Texas Military Department to secure the border with drones. Abbott noted that the department has “been authorized to use them for various purposes but we wanted to make sure it’s crystal clear” they can also be used to secure the border.

SB-1403, the fourth bill signed on Thursday, authorizes the Texas governor to develop and execute an interstate compact for interested states to collaborate on the issue of border security without requiring the approval of Congress.

The fifth bill, SB-1133, authorizes the creation of a grant program to compensate property owners for the damage being done to their agricultural land by criminal illegal aliens who trespass on their property while entering the U.S. illegally. According to comments from the bill’s sponsor, Sen. César Blanco (D-El Paso), it gives “farmers and ranchers in border and rural counties much-needed relief from the damages caused by trafficking, smuggling, and bail-outs on their personal property.”

Through the grant program, Texas ranchers can receive up to $75,000 in reimbursement for damages per incident.

The final bill was SB-602, which authorizes U.S. Border Patrol agents to arrest individuals for committing Texas crimes. “A request was made to the state of Texas by Border Patrol,” Abbott said, adding that the bill will give Border Patrol “more tools to secure the border, powers of arrest and search and seizure for any felony offense under Texas law if the arrest, search or seizure is incident to a containment under federal law and occurs at a port of entry or at a Border Patrol check point.”

Abbott also announced during the bill signing that the state will begin using floating border barriers in the Rio Grande to prevent water crossings.

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