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May 18, 2009 (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES BILL TO CRACK DOWN ON UNDOCUMENTED FELONS

Sen. Patrick
Senator Dan Patrick of Houston wins passage of SB 2584 as his mother looks on.

(AUSTIN) — Undocumented aliens convicted of a felony in Texas would be reported to federal officials under a measure passed by the Senate on Monday. SB 2584, by Houston Senator Dan Patrick, seeks to improve cooperation between local, state, and federal authorities with respect to identifying criminals who are in the country illegally. "We've had a number of convicted felons, who have been let out and have committed crimes, including the loss of a police officer," said Patrick. He referred to the 2006 death of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson, who was killed by a man who had been deported in 1999 but illegally re-entered the country.

The bill would require that a sheriff or other officer in charge of a jail make an attempt to verify the citizenship status upon taking custody of a person convicted of a certain felony. Applicable felonies include violent crimes, drug offenses, property crimes and weapons charges. If the officer cannot determine the citizenship status, or determines a person is in the country illegally, he or she must contact the Department of Homeland Security. This bill heads over to the House for further consideration.

Other bills passed by the Senate Monday include:

- HB 3108, sponsored by Harris, would commission an interim study on recreational boating safety in Texas, in the wake of increasing fatalities and injuries,

- SJR 43, by Lucio, would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to permit emergency services districts to hold local option elections to levy a 5 cent ad valorem tax for equipment and capital improvements,

- HB 2640, sponsored by Watson, would allow the state to look at economic conditions and other financial conditions when considering new car dealership licenses.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 19 at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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