PRESS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Dan Patrick

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2007

Contact: Court Koenning
(512) 463-0107 / (713) 876-4444

SB 773: MAKES IT ILLEGAL TO BE ILLEGAL IN TEXAS

Also, Senator Patrick responds to TAB's efforts to undermine border security

AUSTIN - Texas Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) this afternoon introduced Senate Bill 773 which would make it illegal to be illegal in Texas. The bill, requested by cops on the beat, would give officers one more tool to detain and arrest persons who are suspected to be in violation of other laws. Upon passage, the penal code would be amended to define being illegal in Texas as criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor. The new classification could not be used as a primary offense, but it would be used to enhance officer's "reasonable suspicion to believe the person has committed or is committing a violation of another law of this state or federal law."

"I patrolled the Valley with border sheriff deputies," Senator Patrick reported. "I was outraged to learn law enforcement did not have the tools to detain a person for being in our state illegally even when the officer had reason to believe the person had committed another offense," Sen. Patrick offered.

In addition to the enhancement opportunities made available through this bill, arresting authorities are required to fingerprint persons who are in violation of this act. Additionally, law enforcement is allowed to transfer, at the agency's discretion, violators to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for processing.

"We know drug traffickers and people of questionable intent are roaming our streets, and if local law enforcement, through their normal course of investigation, come in contact with these persons should we just let them go? I think not. We owe it to our citizens to give our officers every tool possible to detain those who wish to do us harm," Patrick offered. "In private meetings with these street level officers, they have asked for this authority and I will make every effort to give it to them," Sen. Patrick said. "Since the federal government has proven unable to secure our border, maybe they will wake up when we are depositing criminals, who are here illegally, into the lobby of the local Border Patrol office," Patrick lamented.

In a related story, Senator Patrick offered a response to the Texas Association of Business (TAB)'s recent suggestion that Texas businesses want to build their operations around cheap, but illegal labor. The organization's views highlighted their opposition to border security legislation moving through the Texas House and Senate. "The Texas Association of Business has lost their focus. Instead of supporting businesses, they are on record as advancing a tax on businesses, shenanigans with our campaign finance laws and now supporting illegal immigration. These questionable activities over the last few years have left Texas taxpayers and businesses picking up the TAB," Senator Patrick remarked. "With all due respect to the Texas Association of Business, a vast majority of Texas businesses want to operate inside the framework of Texas and Federal Law. Unfortunately, TAB's recent statements represent those few businesses who choose not to follow the law," Senator Patrick concluded.

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