Texas Passes Bill Allowing State Police to Arrest, Deport Illegal Immigrants
By: DAVID ZIMMERMANN
The Texas House passed legislation on Tuesday making it a state crime to illegally cross the southern border, empowering state and local police to arrest and in some cases deport illegal immigrants, in what the bill’s supporters claim is a response to federal inaction.
Senate Bill 4 gives local and state government the authority to arrest illegal immigrants who enter Texas from Mexico between official ports of entry. Under SB 4, those who unlawfully cross the border can be charged with a state misdemeanor and face up to one year in prison. A felony charge, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years, can be leveled if illegal immigrants are charged with additional crimes or don’t comply with a judge’s orders.
The bill also authorizes state judges to deport illegal aliens to Mexico rather than pursue prosecution under federal law. After getting approval from the Texas senate last week, the latest version of SB 4 now heads to Republican governor Greg Abbott’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into l
Republican state representative David Spiller, a sponsor of the landmark bill, said SB 4 intends to “stop the flow of illegal immigration” and that is not designed to prevent legal migrants from lawfully seeking asylum in the U.S. The state lawmaker also claimed SB 4 is constitutional because it’s “not in conflict” with Arizona v. U.S. , despite Democratic claims to the contrary.
“SB 4 intends to challenge the decade-long holding of Arizona versus United States , given the new makeup of the United States Supreme Court, which we have seen has already overturned [the] 50-year long precedent of Roe v. Wade,” Democratic state representative Victoria Neave Criado said. Spiller argued he is not attempting to overturn the Supreme Court decision.
The ACLU of Texas expressed opposition to SB4, saying it “overrides federal immigration law, fuels racial profiling and harassment, and gives state officials the unconstitutional ability to deport people without due process, regardless of whether they are eligible to seek asylum or other humanitarian protections.”
The state House also approved $1.5 billion in border barriers as part of a separate bill on Tuesday.
Abbott personally thanked Spiller and Republican state representative Jacey Jetton for pushing both bills in the Texas House. “I look forward to working with both chambers to get these priorities across the finish line,” the governor posted on X. “Texas won’t wait on Biden to secure the border.”
Nearly 189,000 illegal migrants crossed the southern border in October, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection report released Tuesday. That figure decreased 14 percent from the month prior.
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