Subscribe to receive our Floor Reports covering all the action on the Texas House and Senate floor!
There are several reasons why this legislation is inconsistent with the proper role of limited government and for which we are subsequently opposed.
This legislation would set up a specific class of criminal defendant, people who are not United States citizens, to receive a legal clarification from the magistrate that would not also be given to other defendants. Granted, the legal consequences of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere may have different consequences for a citizen versus a foreign national. That notwithstanding, if any class of criminal defendants is going to benefit from the free legal counsel of a magistrate prior to entering a plea, all criminal defendants should receive the same benefit.
Our stronger objection, and perhaps more to the point, is that judges shouldn't be giving this type of legal advice in the first place. That is the job of defense counsel. Immigration law in particular is very complex and it is likely that judges will have a difficult time complying with this law and applying it evenly across the state. The role of giving legal counsel to a criminal defendant should remain the sole responsibility of the defendant's legal counsel.
For these reasons this legislation would violate the principle of limited government and we recommend legislators join us in opposing SB 268.