On a recent Thursday, the current White House administration issued a stark caution to Texas’s Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, concerning new legislation on immigration in the state. Should the state put this new law into action, which would grant extended powers regarding detention and deportation to local authorities dealing with migrants unlawfully entering the country, the federal government may consider a lawsuit.
The law in question was deemed unconstitutional by a Justice Department official, who also remarked that it diverged from America’s long-standing commitment to due process for noncitizens, as emblazoned in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The contentious legislation, known as SB4 or Senate Bill 4, aligns with the state’s proactive ‘Operation Lone Star’. With a proposed enforcement date of March 5th, this marked a significant shift in Texas’s law enforcement strategy towards migrants entering the state illegally.
As stated in a letter penned by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, it was pointed out that ‘should Texas decide against enforcing Senate Bill 4, the federal government may reconsider the filing of a lawsuit’
Intricacies of the law, signed into fruition by Governor Abbott on December 18, categorize illegal entry into the US from Mexico as a state crime, empowering law enforcement to detain those suspected of making unauthorized border crossings, notably within the Rio Grande’s parameters.
Consequences for these violations range from Class B misdemeanor charges, met with up to six-month jail terms, to second-degree felony charges for repeat offenders, leading to a potential imprisonment of up to 20 years— a stark contrast to previous legislation [Sentence removed for duplication].
A compelling aspect of Senate Bill 4 is its provision allowing Texas’s judicial representatives to dismiss such migration-related charges if the accused migrants consent to their deportation. [Sentence removed for duplication]
In his objections, Boynton brings up a noteworthy point with regards to preemption, asserting that a process intending to remove those present in the country illegally, and the influencing factors leading to such decisions, remains an exclusive obligation of the federal government. This principle extends to the Supreme Court’s declarations that recognize the federal government’s exclusive discretion over removal procedures due to implications on foreign relations.
Arguably, one of the pivotal responsibilities of the federal government is to unequivocally enforce national immigration laws. In his letter, the DOJ official underscored that enforcing SB 4 might inadvertently result in migrants with valid asylum claims being imprisoned or returned to countries where they risk exposure to persecution or torture — a situation morally and legally fraught.
The current administration requests Governor Abbott to confirm by January 3rd whether he intends to carry out this groundbreaking new law. However, Governor Abbott answered this query in a decidedly public and defiant manner, with a searing indictment of President Biden’s actions.
Abbott denounced the administration’s stance and accused President Biden of ‘destroying America’, highlighting an article regarding the federal government’s demand in his social media post. He expressed shock at what he considered as the administration’s disregard of U.S. immigration laws and its alleged attempts to obstruct Texas from implementing measures against illegal immigration.
The governor’s audacious response continued, saying ‘Such a level of disdain against the rule of law in America is unprecedented. The current state of the nation is being destroyed by the actions of the Biden administration. Texas aims to salvage it.’ As implied by the new legislation, individuals who habitually cross the border illegally could potentially face a felony charge.
An Abbott representative, speaking under the condition of anonymity, informed The Post that if deemed necessary, Texas was ready to fiercely contest the enforcement of Senate Bill 4 in the Supreme Court. ‘In order to safeguard Texans and the broader American public from President Biden’s lax border policies, Texas is prepared to take this case to the highest court,’ the spokesperson declared.
The representative offered a passionate defense of the governor’s efforts to control the increasing influx of migrants into Texas by asserting, ‘President Biden’s deliberate and dangerous inaction at our southern border has left Texas to fend for itself. To help quell this rising tide of entry into Texas as the President refuses to implement federal immigration laws, Governor Abbott ratified Senate Bill 4 into law last week.’
Governor Abbott has been notably active in trying to tackle the extraordinary surge of migrant arrivals in recently. His creative and practical approach to migration management includes transporting arriving migrants to so-called sanctuary cities such as New York and Chicago.
Another inventive solution proposed by the governor involved erecting a floating barrier in the Rio Grande. However, court orders called for the removal of this temporary structure. The ongoing discourse captures the tension between state and federal governments, and the ever-present specter of immigration in the border state of Texas.