I feel like sometimes we’re in a waking dream.

But it’s not just a dream. It’s kind of a nightmare because I feel like all the things that when I grew up our nation stood against are now being put into law.

People want to be polite and not talk about this type of legislation in this way, but we’re creating a Texas Super Police Force, and some people say, well that’s too extreme, but we’re creating a police force that are not made of police. We’re creating a police force that is accountable to no one but the head of state. 

State Rep. Gene Wu

We’re creating a police force with no clear objectives but to protect the state from enemies. Who are those enemies? How do we define them? Do we know who they are by looking at them? It doesn’t say. 

But I know what’s gonna happen. I know who are the people who will be listed as the enemies. I know what they are gonna look like. They’re gonna look like this (looking around at those rallying). They’re going to look like all of us standing up here, including myself, because they’re going to say, ‘These immigrants are the enemies.’ They’re going to say, “We’re worried about the invaders.’”

We’re the ones who look like we don’t belong. We’re the ones who look like we’re invaders. We’re the ones who look like were immigrants, we’re the ones who look like refugees and look like everything else that they have demonized.

And we’re going to create this police force, this secret police force, with no accountability, with no laws, immune from civil and criminal laws, to do whatever they please — a police force that is not even answerable to the head police officer in this state. 

And we all are talking about this like it’s just another day, like we’re just changing Medicaid requirements. This is the stuff that we have railed against, that we have complained that other nations do. This is the type of stuff that the freedom-loving, liberty-loving people who espouse small government — who say “We don’t trust the government” — who are saying we’re going to give one person in the government total and absolute power to do whatever they want, to be completely unaccountable, to have this force of people who are not even licensed police officers to do whatever they feel is necessary to deal (looks at ralliers)…to deal with enemies.

This is not the Texas I grew up in. This is not the America I grew up in. This is everything that our country has hated. Everything that I was taught, that I grew up being taught… — that we should treat all people equally, that we should treat all people fairly, that we should not discriminate or hunt down or round up or incarcerate or put on secret trials people that do not look like us, that do not sound like us, that are too ‘different.’

I don’t know what else to say about this. It always starts very reasonably, it always starts like we are going to protect the state, we’re going to protect the nation and we’re just going to after these people first, and you don’t need to worry about them because they’re not you.. ‘Don’t worry, they’re not you.’ But one day, it’s gonna be you. And by that time, it may be too late to stand up. 

I want to be very clear about this. I represent a very large immigrant community for over a decade now, and a lot of my community are immigrants, some are refugees, some are undocumenteds. And to this day, I don’t know how to tell the difference between any of them. 

But we’re going to put a police force to look for immigrants, to look for refugees — men, women, children who have fled to this country seeking the American dream, to seek safety, to seek liberty, and we will hunt them down. 

I know that this is something that is important to Gov. Abbott and I know this because Gov. DeSantis did it. And what I’m telling the State of Texas, what I’m telling all good people is you don’t have to hand over power to one man. You don’t have to hand over our government, our safety, our lives to one person without any accountability.

It is time for all of us to stand up and say “No.” It is time for all Americans to say “No” to secret police, to say “No” to vigilantes and militias. It is time to say “Yes” to democracy, to freedom and to liberty.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was delivered by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, at a rally at the state Capitol in Austin on April 12, 2023. The rally was organized by immigrant rights groups in opposition to two proposed pieces of legislation. HB 7 by Rep. Ryan Guillen, R-Rio Grande City, would create separate courts to prosecute immigrants caught in the net of Operation Lone Star. HB 20 by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, would enable a private border security force in Texas. The Texas Civil Rights Project, one of the participants at the rally, has called HB20 “the most dangerous piece of border legislation we’ve ever seen.” Other state Reps that spoke at the rally included Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, Victoria Neave Criado, D-Mesquite, and Armando Walle, D-Houston. 

Editor’s Note: Credit to Texas AFL-CIO for providing Rep. Wu’s commentary verbatim. Texas AFL-CIO joined about 20 other organizations at the rally. The two pieces of legislation are expected to be heard by a House committee on April 13, 2023. 

Editor’s Note: Click here to watch part of Rep. Wu’s remarks at the immigrant rights rally.