Texas is once again in the throes of its biennial legislative session, which will wrap up at the end of May. One of the more dangerously authoritarian bills introduced this session is HB 20, authored by Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), which would create armed citizen militias under the control of the governor. Their mission would be to hunt down undocumented people. Bob Libal, a longtime immigration and criminal justice reform activist based in Austin, attended the bill’s hearing on April 13 at the Texas Legislature, where nearly 300 people signed up in opposition. Despite this, at least 52 Republicans in the Texas House have signed on to HB 20. Libal, now a U.S. consultant for the international nonprofit Human Rights Watch, talks about how the passage of HB 20 would set a dangerous authoritarian precedent. “They would be setting up a system where people who believe that undocumented migrants are invaders could be enforcing this Texas-specific immigration proposal—and they’d be armed,” he says.
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