Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced plans to sign a new state law that will empower every police officer in Texas to arrest individuals who have illegally entered the state from another country. This announcement, made during an interview with Fox News, marks a significant escalation in Texas’ efforts to address illegal immigration, a challenge that has intensified under President Joe Biden’s administration.
The proposed legislation, known as SB4, has been referred to as “the strongest border security bill” by state officials. It aims to grant local police the authority to enforce immigration laws by criminalizing the act of illegal border crossing into Texas as a state misdemeanor. Additionally, the bill would enable judges to order immigrants to return to Mexico.
Governor Abbott’s decision comes in response to what he describes as an “extraordinarily bad” problem, citing the high numbers of illegal crossings and the Biden administration’s policies, which he perceives as encouraging illegal immigration. House Republicans have supported this view, presenting data from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Yale University, estimating between 16.8 million and 29 million illegal migrants currently residing in the U.S. They attribute approximately 3.8 million of these arrivals to the Biden administration.
The situation at the border has placed a significant strain on U.S. Border Patrol authorities, who have reported encountering nearly 475,000 migrants and over 60,000 getaways in the fiscal year. Some of these individuals are believed to be on the FBI terror watch list, amplifying security concerns.
In a move that sparked controversy, Texas reversed its course last year by transporting tens of thousands of migrants to various Democrat-run “sanctuary cities” across the nation. This action was met with criticism from Democrat officials in those cities.
Texas has also attempted to implement physical barriers in the Rio Grande River to deter illegal crossings. However, these efforts have been challenged legally by the Department of Justice, leading to a court ruling that ordered the removal of the barriers. Abbott has expressed his intention to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Governor Abbott’s forthcoming action to sign SB4 into law underscores Texas’ aggressive stance on illegal immigration and reflects the ongoing tension between state and federal approaches to border security and immigration policy.