In challenge to federal govt, Texas to arrest illegal migrants

Border crossings will be made illegal and punishable by imprisonment in Texas, which has passed one of the strictest immigration laws of any U.S. state in recent history.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott stated that the measure would "halt the tidal surge of illegal entry into Texas." Advocates for immigration assert that the legislation will result in racial profiling.

It occurs in the midst of declining illicit immigration and public apprehension regarding the border management of US President Joe Biden.

A prior ruling by U.S. courts that immigration laws can only be enforced by the federal government contributes to the controversy surrounding the new Texas measure.

Illicit border crossing is already a federal offence; however, violations are presently adjudicated as civil cases within the immigration court system. SB4, which will be implemented in March, was approved by the Republican-led legislature of Texas in November by both houses.

With the exception of hospitals and schools, the law permits local and state police officers to apprehend and detain anyone suspected of having unlawfully crossed the border.

Misdemeanours and felonies carry penalties ranging from monetary fines to imprisonment or a maximum of $2,000 (£1,580). In addition, a magistrate may order the repatriation of those arrested to Mexico via the land border; however, the manner in which Texas authorities intend to implement this provision remains unknown.

Illegal re-entry may result in imprisonment for as long as twenty years, contingent upon the immigration and criminal record of the migrant. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas stated in November that the legislation "maintains the safety of the state of Texas" and that it was "the most robust border security measure ever passed in Texas."

SB4, nevertheless, is highly likely to encounter legal opposition from proponents of immigration. Additionally, the Mexican government and Democratic lawmakers have criticised the measure.

Sarah Mehta, senior border policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, stated in October that "laws like this result in the unlawful racial profiling, arrest, and detention of both US residents and immigrants." Mehta's statement describes the consequences of legislation like these.

According to Angelo Fernández Hernández, a spokeswoman for the White House, "generally speaking, the federal government is responsible with selecting how and when to remove noncitizens for breaching immigration rules." This statement was made in reference to the practice of removing noncitizens from the country.

In an effort to obtain a comment, the BBC has reached out to the Department of Justice, which would be the entity responsible for initiating any federal legal action against the state of Texas.

Concerns around the border and immigration have been a source of political stress for Vice President Joe Biden.

A total of 2.4 million migrant "encounters" were recorded at the border during the fiscal year that ended in September of 2022, which was a record high for the number of such recorded incidents. For the purpose of securing policies that will tighten down on illegal immigration, Republican lawmakers have attempted to use the United States' military assistance to Ukraine as leverage.