AUSTIN, Texas – The crackdown on human smugglers and illegal border crossings has become a top priority during the special session. Members of the Texas House State Affairs committee recently heard from DPS director Steve McCraw about a concerning incident. Authorities reported the capture of several Iranians at the border, which is notable due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“It’s common knowledge, and I believe most members are aware, that individuals from special interest countries have been entering the United States and apprehended in Texas along the Texas-Mexico border. These individuals come from countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Jordan,” McCraw stated.
According to FOX News, four Iranians, two of whom are on a security threat watch list, were apprehended on the Texas border this month. The most recent case occurred on Sunday morning.
During a break in the hearing, McCraw spoke to FOX 7 Austin about the Iranians and whether any of them were involved in any nefarious activities. “At this time, we don’t have any information. Plain and simple,” said McCraw. He also urged residents to remain vigilant but assured them that there is currently no active threat.
“In line with Christopher Wray’s statements, and you will likely hear the same from DHS, there is no specific or credible threat in Texas. However, we remain concerned about the threat environment and always monitor it closely,” McCraw added.
McCraw pointed out that in 2023, 151 individuals on the terrorism watch list were apprehended at the southwest border. “This clearly emphasizes the significance of border security,” he emphasized.
State lawmakers are now working towards strengthening border enforcement efforts. Senate Bill 4 proposes a minimum prison sentence of 10 years for human smuggling. However, opponents argue that the bill targets the wrong offenders.
“The majority of people arrested for this crime in Texas are U.S. citizens, many of whom are young Texans. The median age is 26, and 13% of them are teenagers. This bill would fill our prisons with young individuals convicted of a nonviolent offense, subjecting them to at least ten years of imprisonment, which is an extreme measure that won’t effectively solve the problem,” expressed Bob Libal from Human Rights Watch.
Libal further stated that there is no evidence to suggest that mandatory minimums deter individuals from committing crimes. He emphasized that the bill does not address the actual criminal organizations responsible for facilitating human smuggling.
Another bill, SB 11, aims to address undocumented migrants before they reach a vehicle or stash house. The proposed legislation would allow local authorities to arrest individuals crossing the border illegally and charge them with trespassing. However, Democrats are concerned that the bill does not explicitly specify that arrests can only occur during the act of illegal crossing and not anywhere within the state. The border bills may be sent to the full house for consideration later this week.