Texas Democrats’ Reckless Call to Decriminalize Illegal Border Crossings

COMMENTARY Immigration

Texas Democrats’ Reckless Call to Decriminalize Illegal Border Crossings

Aug 31st, 2018 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Hans A. von Spakovsky

Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues – including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration.
We must enhance our border security to make it as difficult as possible for illegals to get across the border. Phototreat/Getty Images

When you knowingly cross the border into another country — any country — without permission, that’s a crime, right? Yes, in every country in the world.

Some aspiring Democratic candidates in Texas want to change that. They think we should decriminalize unlawful border crossings.

Others on the left want to go even further. They would essentially gut the power of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Three candidates running for office in Texas have floated a scheme to remove the power of ICE without actually getting rid of the agency, which has been what protesters and even members of Congress have been advocating over the past several months. This includes Representative Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas), who is running for the U.S. Senate; Lupe Valdez, who is running for governor; and Democratic congressional candidate Veronica Escobar.

Most people would say that this scheme is reckless and irresponsible — one that, if enacted, would endanger public safety. And the latest report from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) shows why. Perhaps these candidates should read that report. Certainly, the residents of the Lone Star State should, as they are the ones who have been the victims of crimes by illegal aliens — crimes such as murder, rape, assault, robbery, and the like.

The Texas DPS, which includes among its divisions one of the most storied state law-enforcement agencies in America, the Texas Rangers, collected data on all of the illegal aliens booked into Texas jails between June 1, 2011, and July 31, 2018 — more than 175,000.

Those illegal aliens have been charged with 273,000 criminal offenses. That includes arrests for:

  • 505 homicides;
  • 30,408 assaults;
  • 3,212 sexual assaults;
  • 2,022 sexual offenses;
  • 365 kidnappings;
  • 5,396 burglaries;
  • 1,569 robberies;
  • 34,555 drug charges;
  • 15,100 thefts;
  • 2,754 weapons charges; and
  • 22,213 obstructing-police charges.

Many of these charges are still pending, but these arrests have already resulted in more than 112,000 convictions, including 225 murder convictions, 12,540 assault convictions, 152 kidnapping convictions, 1,567 sexual-assault convictions, and 1,076 sexual-offense convictions.

The number of crimes committed in Texas by illegal aliens may actually be higher. In total, more than 261,000 aliens were arrested in Texas from 2011 to 2018, of which more than 175,000 were immediately identified as being in the U.S. illegally. However, according to the Texas DPS report, these crime numbers only include aliens who “previously had an encounter” with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “that resulted in their fingerprints being entered into” the department’s “IDENT” database. Aliens who get into the country successfully without being detected by DHS, but who are later arrested by Texas law enforcement for violating a state law, aren’t in the DHS system and “do not appear in these [Texas] counts.” Yikes.

An additional 10,182 aliens who are in prison in Texas have since been identified as being in the country illegally through investigations conducted by the Texas DPS. They were charged with more than 6,000 criminal offenses, including 81 homicides.

These numbers also do not include illegal aliens convicted of federal crimes in Texas, such as Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval. Tijerina-Sandoval, a repeated border-crosser, was convicted in June in a federal prosecution for murdering Javier Vega Jr., a U.S. Border Patrol officer. Vega was on a family fishing trip when he was killed. His father was also shot.

An additional chilling point is made at the end of the Texas DPS report. The 273,000 criminal charges against more than 175,000 illegal aliens only count the criminal charges lodged between 2011 and 2018 against these aliens. But over the course of their entire criminal careers, these illegal aliens have actually been charged with more than 437,000 criminal offenses, including 969 homicides; 49,422 assaults; 651 kidnappings; 5,282 sexual assaults; and 3,227 sexual offenses.

The bottom line here is that these crimes, committed against hundreds of thousands of Texans, need not have occurred. We must enhance our border security to make it as difficult as possible for illegals to get across the border; and we must efficiently find and remove criminal aliens who get into the country — and keep them out.

Instead, we have political candidates, protesters, and members of Congress who want to take away ICE’s authority, provide sanctuaries for criminal illegal aliens, and extinguish the line between legal and illegal aliens.

How many more families have to suffer losses like those who mourn Mollie Tibbetts, Kate Steinle, and many others before liberals realize that their attitude endangers public safety and causes families all over the country to experience terrible tragedies that could have been avoided?

This piece originally appeared in National Review