Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has signed a new bill that criminalizes illegal entry into Texas, marking a significant state-level intervention in immigration enforcement.
This move comes as a direct response to the escalating crisis at the Texas-Mexico border, which has seen a significant influx of undocumented immigrants during President Joe Biden’s administration, the Daily Wire reported.
The legislation, initially proposed by Texas Republicans and sent to Abbott in November, aims to bolster state authority in managing border security. It notably introduces a misdemeanor charge for illegal border crossing into Texas and authorizes local law enforcement to handle immigration matters. A key feature of the law is its provision for deporting individuals back to Mexico, challenging the Biden administration’s current catch-and-release approach.
Governor Abbott, while signing the bill, highlighted the stark contrast between the immigration policies of former President Donald Trump and those of President Biden. He attributed the current surge in illegal crossings to the Biden administration’s rollback of Trump-era border policies and the federal government’s inaction in securing the border.
“Four years ago, the United States had the fewest illegal border crossings in decades,” Abbott said at a signing ceremony. “It was because of four policies put in place by the Trump Administration that led to such a low number of illegal crossings. President Biden has eliminated all of those policies and done nothing to halt illegal immigration. President Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.”
The new law also addresses repeated illegal entry attempts by establishing the offense of illegal reentry, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. It grants civil immunity and indemnification to local and state officials and employees involved in enforcing these provisions, shielding them from lawsuits arising from their actions under this law.
Democratic lawmakers have criticized the legislation, claiming it infringes upon federal jurisdiction over immigration laws. However, Republican supporters of the bill argue that the federal government’s failure to effectively manage border security has necessitated state intervention.
Alongside this law, Governor Abbott also signed two additional bills related to border security. These include allocating over $1 billion for border security measures, such as constructing barriers, and enhancing penalties for human trafficking offenses.