Lawmaker Seeks Opinion on Border Crossing Proposal

11-14-05 - A legislator wants the state attorney general's opinion on a proposal to prohibit minors from crossing into Mexico without a parent, a move meant to prevent teenagers from going across the border to drink.

State Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, thinks an opinion from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott would guide legislators on suggestions they can make during the next legislative session.

"I have concerns ... as this issue is primarily within the federal government's jurisdiction and freedom of movement is generally considered to be a civil liberty," Chavez said in an Oct. 25 letter.

Earlier this year, El Paso's mayor proposed banning unaccompanied minors from crossing the border to prevent teenagers from going into Mexico to drink. But last month, the El Paso City Council abandoned the proposal amid questions of constitutionality and enforceability.

Chavez leads a task force on underage drinking along the border but doesn't support such a law because it could prevent children from families of mixed citizenship from crossing to visit family members in Mexico.

"My concern, coming from a bilingual, bicultural, binational, commuting community, is that we're going to have some unintended consequences," she said.