'Arizona-style' bill, other anti-illegal immigrant measures filed in Texas

Texas State Capitol

The Texas Legislature doesn't start until January but seven bills filed this morning are expected to guarantee debate and controversy.

Texas State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) pre-filed seven anti-illegal immigration bills on Tuesday morning.

The laws range from an "Arizona-style" bill to birthright citizenship to making English the official language of Texas.

Berman told Action 4 News in a telephone interview that that bills are intended to fight illegal immigration in the Lone Star State.

"Next to the economy, illegal aliens are the number one problem in the State of Texas," Berman said.

The Tyler lawmaker said illegal immigrants cost Texas taxpayers $5 billion dollars a year in healthcare and social services.

Berman said there are 25,000 illegal immigrants locked up for different crimes in local and state jails across Texas.

The Republican lawmaker said his bills are not anti-immigrant and not anti-Hispanic but rather anti-illegal immigration.

"This is a nation of laws," Berman said. "We take an oath in the House of Representatives to defend the laws of the United States and Texas. That's what I intend to do."


Berman's House Joint Resolution 38 would make English the official language of the Lone Star State and that all government business be performed in English.

The Tyler lawmaker said the bill would make all state documents published in English-only saving money for having to print in other languages.

Berman said the English-language bill would put the issue before a vote and become an amendment to the Texas Constitution.

His second bill seeks to take away birthright citizenship to children born in Texas but whose parents are both illegal immigrants.

Berman's third bill seeks to deny food stamps and other state benefits to American-born children whose parents are illegal immigrants.

His fourth bill would prevent illegal immigrants from filing lawsuits in state courts.

Berman's fifth bill relates to a controversy circulating on the Internet and talk show radio regarding President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

The bill seeks to certify candidates on the Texas ballot for the offices of president and vice-president of the United States.

Berman said his sixth bill is an "Arizona-style" bill that would empower state and local law enforcement officials regarding illegal immigration.

The Tyler lawmaker said his bill avoids legal pitfalls of Arizona's law by applying requiring police to ask the same questions to everybody, not just suspected illegal immigrants.

Berman said his Arizona-style bill also includes provisions against sanctuary cities.

He said he may file a separate sanctuary city bill in case the Arizona-style bill is defeated or vetoed.

A seventh bill seeks to levy on wire transfers to Mexico, Central American and South America but not on wire transfers to other nations.

Action 4 News is trying to get an interview with local lawmakers and activists about the bills.


Full text copies of the bills are available on the Texas Legislature website:

HJR 38 Proposing a constitutional amendment to establish English as the official language of Texas and require that official acts of government be performed in English.

HB 292 Relating to birth records of children born in this state; creating an offense.

HB 293 Relating to the eligibility of an individual born in this state whose parents are illegal aliens to receive state benefits.

HB 294 Relating to prohibiting a person who is in the United States illegally from bringing a claim in a state court.

HB 295 Relating to certification for placement on the ballot of candidates for president or vice-president of the United States.

HB 296 Relating to the enforcement of immigration laws, to the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of certain criminal offenses concerning illegal immigration, and to certain employment and labor practices and requirements regarding immigration and immigrants; providing civil and criminal penalties.

HB 303 Relating to the imposition of a fee for money transmissions sent to certain destinations outside the United States.