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Lawmaker Introduces Bill Making First Time Illegal Border Crossing a Felony

BROWNSVILLE,Texas - U.S. Representative Diane Black, (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill that would make crossing the U.S. border illegally a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, establishing a minimum prison sentence of one year and one day.

The bill, titled the Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act, would in part, place a mandate on all employers to use the E-Verify system, which allows businesses to confirm whether applicants are eligible to work in the United States. 

“That means that if you try to cross the border you will be charged with a felony but if you then later decide, ‘Well I’ll go ahead and try this the legal way,’ having a felony would preclude you from having a green card,” Black said.

“It’s a kind of disincentive just like we do with our kids when they’re growing up, is to say okay, don’t do that because there’s a punishment and you’re going to pay for this for a long time.”

The bill also proposes rescinding funding from sanctuary cities and redirecting it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Activists in the Rio Grande Valley believe the law will create more problems, instead of solutions. 

“The problem with illegal immigration is that our immigration laws, our immigration system is broken,” said Mark Kaswan, Associate Professor of Political Science at UTRGV. 

“It’s an inhumane solution and it’s also not going to solve any of the underlying problems that we have,” said Diego Gomez, with Frontera Progressives. 

Although it is unlikely that this bill will become a law activist believe it is important to keep an eye on legislation that could impact the Rio Grande Valley. 

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