Texas Passes State Law Making Illegal Immigration A Crime

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a state illegal immigration bill into law Monday, the first of its kind in the nation that would allow state law enforcement to arrest illegal migrants in the state’s borders.

Gov. Abbott signed the bill into law in a large public ceremony at the border with Mexico in Brownsville, Texas. Numerous state lawmakers attended the bill signing along with Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) and National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) president Brandon Judd. The state plans for the law to take effect beginning in March.

The Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 4 (S.B. 4) during Special Session #4, making illegal entry to Texas from a foreign country a criminal offense. It carries a penalty of sentences up to 20 years in prison. The new law also has provisions for the state of Texas to deport illegal migrants to the country from which they attempted their entry into Texas.

The bill represents an extraordinary development in the ongoing struggle between local and state governments and the U.S. federal government under President Joe Biden to solve a massive surge of illegal immigration over the border with Mexico.

S.B. 4 is similar to a federal law making illegal immigration a crime under Title 8 of the United States Code 1325. The first offense is a misdemeanor, while a second conviction would result in a felony. However the current White House administration under President Biden does not enforce the federal immigration statute with regularity.

Democrat members of the House of Representatives say that S.B. 4 oversteps the federal government’s constitutional powers over foreign policy. But under Biden, the federal government has not exercised its powers and obligation to enforce its laws and secure the border, leading to a surge in illegal immigration that has put enormous pressure on local and federal resources.

When Arizona passed a similar law in 2012, which opponents dubbed the “show me your papers law,” the Supreme Court overturned most of it on the basis that immigration policy is under the purview of the federal government. But the government still enforced immigration law even when former President Barack Obama sat in the White House.