Joshua S. Treviño is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in which he explores pathways for future Foundation action and develops forecasts for Texas and the nation. Prior to his service as CIO, he was Vice President for Strategy at the Illinois Policy Institute in Chicago. Prior to that, he was Vice President for Communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation for six years. His other experience includes service as Vice President for Policy at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, independent media consultancy, consultancy at Booz Allen Hamilton, service as both a speechwriter and an international-health professional in the Administration of George W. Bush, and service as a United States Army officer. He lives in the Austin, Texas, region with his wife and two sons.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of Senate Bill 11, which would create a state misdemeanor or, depending on the context, a felony for those who illegally enter Texas via an international border. My name is Joshua Treviño, and I am the Chief of Intelligence and Research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research institution in Austin, Texas. In my role, much of my work focuses on the violence in Mexico, and the reclamation of Texas’s sovereignty under the Constitution.
The bottom line on SB 11 is this: it is a good bill, a Constitutional bill, and a necessary bill for the defense of Texas against the state-cartel nexus that increasingly controls Mexico. That Mexican state-cartel collusion, on which we have written in depth, conducts a deadly export trade, trafficking in fentanyl, corruption, and worst of all, literally millions of fellow human beings who are held in de facto servitude by them—not just in Mexico, but in the United States itself. The federal government, which ought to be the first line of defense for our communities against these predations, has effectively abdicated its obligation to do so. It is therefore time for Texas to step up.
Fortunately, Texas possesses the Constitutional power to do so. Despite the Supreme Court of the United States’s erroneous decision in Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387 (2012), there is in fact nothing preventing the states from asserting what the late Justice Antonin Scalia described, in his partial concurrence, as “what most would consider the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign’s territory people who have no right to be there.” Scalia continued: “Neither the Constitution itself nor even any law passed by Congress supports this result.”
We concur. We therefore endorse the intent and purpose of SB 11 in full. A polity that fails to defend itself and its citizenry—especially from foreign invasion that would have been immediately recognized by both the Texan and American Founders as piratical and deliberate in its nature—is one that lacks both legitimacy and meaning. Texans have learned the bitter lesson that we can expect little from our federal government—but we rightly expect more from our state. On this front, SB 11 delivers.
SB 11 is an emphatic corrective to over a decade in which a wrongheaded federal judiciary has excluded the states from their legitimate plenary powers under the Tenth Amendment. The bill achieves three major ends: it defends Texas communities, it asserts Texas’s legitimate Constitutional powers, and it signals that the old era—in which the federal government acts more vigorously against states defending their citizenry than it does against the state-cartel threat from the southern border—is over.