Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has approved a new legislation aiming to address the issue of illegal immigration. The law now criminalizes entering the country unlawfully under both state and federal jurisdictions. Abbott envisions this measure enabling Texas courts to facilitate immediate deportations of migrants to Mexico. However, it is anticipated that he will encounter opposition from liberals and potential legal challenges.
On December 18, Governor Abbott endorsed Senate Bill 4 (SB4), making illegal entry into the US a criminal offense under state law. While immigration enforcement traditionally falls under federal jurisdiction, Abbott’s skepticism in the Biden Administration’s effectiveness or willingness to address illegal immigration has led him to take matters into the state’s hands. As a means of exerting pressure, Abbott has been orchestrating the transport of tens of thousands of migrants to liberal jurisdictions, including New York City.
The implementation of these measures has sparked disagreements among Democrats, particularly between New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) and NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D). They are pointing fingers at each other and President Biden for the crisis that is straining their services. However, the adopted measures have not stemmed the influx into Texas. In response, Governor Abbott is now making direct efforts to address the situation in his state.
Under the provisions of SB4, Texas law enforcement officers will have the authority to apprehend individuals for the misdemeanor offense of illegal entry. Subsequently, a judge can present them with a decision: either agree to a deportation order leading to their return to Mexico or face prosecution. Non-compliance with this choice could result in facing felony charges for the individuals involved.
Conversely, the White House has promptly criticized the legislation as “extreme,” expressing disapproval. Mexico is asserting that while it is obligated to accept its citizens if deported by the US, it is unwilling to receive migrants deported by a state judge rather than a federal one.
Thirty former US immigration judges have joined in denouncing the law, contending that it is unconstitutional because it grants Texas law enforcement and courts jurisdiction in an area traditionally governed by federal law. Liberals are expected to vigorously oppose any deportations authorized under SB4. Despite this opposition, Governor Abbott remains steadfast in his determination to address and resolve the immigration issue.