The issue of illegal immigration continues to plague the United States, and Texas, in particular, has been at the forefront of the debate.
In a bold move, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law sweeping new powers that aim to curb illegal immigration in the state.
The law grants Texas law enforcement officers the authority to arrest migrants who cross the border illegally and allows local judges to order them to leave the country.
However, critics argue that the measure goes beyond the state’s jurisdiction and violates the federal government’s responsibility for immigration enforcement.
Texas Republicans have increasingly pushed the boundaries of immigration enforcement under President Joe Biden’s administration, claiming that the federal government is not doing enough to address the issue.
The state has taken matters into its own hands by busing over 65,000 migrants to cities across America and even installing razor wire along the banks of the Rio Grande.
These aggressive measures have sparked controversy and drawn attention to Texas’ determination to tackle illegal immigration head-on.
Abbott’s newly signed law allows any Texas law enforcement officer to arrest individuals suspected of entering the country illegally. Once in custody, migrants can either agree to a Texas judge’s order to leave the U.S. or face prosecution on misdemeanor charges of illegal entry.
Those who refuse to comply may face arrest again under more serious felony charges. However, legal experts argue that this measure encroaches on the federal government’s authority over immigration enforcement, and Mexico’s government has also criticized the law.
Unsurprisingly, the new law has faced significant opposition from various groups. Immigrant rights organizations have criticized President Biden for not taking swift action to stop Texas’ aggressive border measures.
Thirty former U.S. immigration judges, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, have signed a letter condemning the law as unconstitutional.
They argue that the law promotes racial profiling and will inevitably lead to massive family separations.
The measure is expected to face legal challenges, similar to Arizona’s 2010 immigration law that was largely struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
During the debate surrounding the law in the Texas House, GOP state Representative David Spiller emphasized that the law would primarily be enforced in border counties, countering concerns that it would be used as a statewide dragnet to arrest immigrants.
Spiller rejected efforts by Democrats to narrow the law, including a proposed carve-out for police on college campuses. He maintained that the intention was not to round up every individual who is in the country illegally and deport them but to address the issue at the border.
The Mexican government has strongly rebuked the Texas law, categorically rejecting any measure that allows local or state authorities to detain or deport Mexicans or individuals of other nationalities to Mexican soil.
Under bilateral and international agreements, Mexico is required to accept the deportation of its own citizens but not those from other countries.
“The Mexican government categorically rejects any measure that would allow local or state authorities to detain or deport Mexicans or other nationalities to Mexican soil,” Mexico’s foreign relations department wrote in a statement to the Associated Press.
Opponents of the law argue that Texas Republicans are using it as a means to challenge the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on Arizona’s immigration law in 2012.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, at the time, acknowledged that Arizona had understandable frustrations but couldn’t pursue policies that undermined federal law.
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