Texas Immigration Laws: What’s Next?
New Immigration Policy in Texas Faces Local and Federal Backlash
The Sate of Texas passed its own Immigration law! Immigrant activists are speaking out against a new amendment that makes crossing Texas unlawfully a state crime. They say it will unsettle families with dual-status. Some mention that it will cause targeting of unregistered migrants around the southern border. Many advocates against the bill worry about the repercussions after it goes into effect in March. They fear that state police will begin detaining and attempting to deport people based only on their ethnic origin.
Lawsuits and Protests Against the New Law
Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott passed Senate Bill 4 into law on Monday. The law gives state authorities the authority to detain immigrants. Additionally, it grants courts the authority to compel their deportation to Mexico. This is significant, particularly in a state where two in five members of the populace are Latino.
Already, demonstrations have begun against the law. At one rally, local activist Ramona Casas of the charity Arise Adelante echoed the sentiment of many. Casas mentioned that the law encourages profiling and racism, endangering families. She feels that Latinos in Texas will now always carry their proof of citizenship or identification. She fears it would be necessary to prevent random arrests on the grounds that they may not be legal.
Critics from Far and Wide Weigh In
Numerous critics compare the recent legislation to an Arizona statute that passed in 2010. The US Supreme Court ultimately overturned that law in 2012. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal authorities could veto the bill. However, the court left in place a clause which gave law enforcement some measure of power. The clause gave local law enforcement authority to investigate someone’s immigration history while carrying out other legal duties. They could only do so if they had “reasonable grounds to believe” that they were not legally in the country.
Texas Government Sued
Civil rights organizations launched a lawsuit against the governor’s office in Texas on Tuesday on the grounds that the newly enacted law is illegal. The US Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project contend that the regulation is unlawful because it supersedes the federal constitution.
The associations contend that immigration is a fundamentally federal responsibility in their complaint. They argue that it is the duty of the federal government to uphold immigrant legislation, not state legislative bodies.
The Federal Government May Get Involved
Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, faced some questions about the issue. She stated that the DOJ would determine whether or not a lawsuit would follow. The defendants and Governor Abbott’s offices have refrained from commenting on the charges thus far.
Three Texas county offices, Travis, Harris, and El Paso came together to send a letter to President Biden last month. They requested the President’s support to halt the implementation of SB 4. They raised doubts about the legitimacy of the policy as well as its ability to actually increase community safety. Almost a quarter of Texas’ population lives in the three aforementioned counties.
Migration Issues Mounting at the Border
The new law comes in the midst of a rising migration wave. Federal, state, and local authorities are going hard on unregulated immigration at the southern border. The US Border Patrol processed nearly 11,000 illegal immigrants in just one day, a DHS official reported. Many US officials have issued warnings that the present rate of detention is overloading government facilities. Well over 25,000 migrants are being held at the border with Mexico, according to one official.
Some of Texas’ efforts to reduce illegal immigration along the southern border have caused friction between the administrations of Abbott and Biden. According to Governor Abbott, the federal government has not succeeded in securing the border. Frustrated with the situation, the governor is giving state police overreaching authority to detain and deport migrants.
Accusations of Making Immigration a Weapon for Political Points
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters Tuesday that the state was using SB4 to use immigration as a political weapon. She mentioned that there are over half a million unregistered migrants in Harris County alone. Judge Hidalgo extolled the hardworking nature of the migrants, saying that they suffer crime, face family struggles, and are survivors of hardship. She mentioned that the law would make them recalcitrant to call the police when in danger because the police are now immigration officials.
Advocates from all over Texas have weighed in on the issue of SB 4. Marisa Limón Garza says that it will put people at risk of illegal arrests, seizures, and questioning because of their race. Head of Hope Border Institute, Dylan Corbett, feels that the bill would penalize individuals who are seeking refuge at the border. Cesar Espinosa is the executive director of FIEL, a civil rights organization led by immigrants. He expressed composure in the face of the new law by pointing out that it has not yet taken effect.
Time will tell what the legal and local consensus on this law will be, as well as any repercussions in the future.