John Moore/Getty Images
A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with immigrants awaiting processing after entering the United States from Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on December 17.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed a bill making illegal entry into Texas a state crime, an unusual step in a bitter legal battle between the state and the federal government over efforts to curb illegal immigration.
The measure, SB 4, gives local law enforcement the power to arrest immigrants and gives judges the ability to issue orders to remove them to Mexico. This has sent waves of fear throughout the Latino community in Texas 40% of the state populationAnd the Texas legislature has since been condemned by civil rights organizations and immigration advocacy groups It was passed last month.
The law is expected to come into effect from March.
The continued surge in migration along the US-Mexico border has placed enormous pressure on local and federal resources. The Abbott and Biden administrations have railed against some of the state’s efforts to curb illegal immigration along the southern border. On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a temporary suspension of operations The closures begin Monday at the International Railroad Crossing bridges in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, due to a surge in migrant crossings. Border Patrol agents apprehended about 192,000 migrants between ports of entry in November, up 2% from the 188,000 migrants feared for October, US Border Patrol chief Jason Owens told CNN.
Democratic House members have said the bill infringes on the federal government’s powers and echoes Arizona’s immigration status law, which opponents have called a “show me your papers” law. There was law Mostly rejected by the US Supreme Court In 2012, the federal government confirmed that it sets immigration policy and laws.
The Republican author of the Texas bill maintains the measure is constitutional.
Executive Director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, Kevin F. “SP4 will, at least to some extent, give local law enforcement better tools,” Lawrence told CNN.
The ACLU has threatened to sue Abbott over one of the most anti-immigrant bills passed by any state.
Krish O’Mara Wignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, said in response to Abbott’s signing of the bill that the state threatens “the safety and dignity of asylum seekers.”
“By criminalizing the very act of seeking asylum, Texas is returning to the values of compassion and practices that make our nation a beacon to the world of humanitarian leadership,” Vignarajah said in a statement Monday.
Three top county administrators in Texas wrote to President Joe Biden late last month, urging him to stop SB 4 from taking effect, citing concerns that the measure is unconstitutional and will make communities less safe. County administrators lead El Paso, Harris (home of Houston) and Travis (home of Austin) counties, which represent nearly a quarter of the state’s population.
“We urge you to intervene to prevent this law from going into effect and to prevent Texas Governor Greg Abbott from violating the US Constitution,” they wrote in the letter. Published in X.
On Monday, Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas and 20 other Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing “serious concern” over the bill.
“We urge you to assert your authority over federal immigration and foreign policy and to pursue legal action to prevent the implementation of this unconstitutional and dangerous law,” the letter said.
This topic and story has been updated with additional improvements.