New Texas Law On Illegal Border Entry

December 19, 2023

Illegal entry into Texas is now a crime subject to removal or imprisonment.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) in a statement on X after signing bills related to immigration enforcement within the state, including a law which empowers state law enforcement to arrest people in Texas without legal status – previously a job for federal authorities.

Why It Matters: The new Texas law (one of several bills signed by the Texas governor) attempts to strengthen state law against illegal entry, during a time when historically high levels of people regularly attempt to enter America without legal status, along the Texas border.

The law, set to take effect in March 2024, allows Texas police to arrest people they suspect have crossed the border illegally; the bill also provides local judges the authority to order them to depart the United States. The Associated Press reports, “Once in custody, they could either agree to a Texas judge’s order to leave the U.S. or be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of illegal entry,” adding that people “who don’t leave could face arrest again under more serious felony charges.

The Big Picture: This new law sets up a showdown between the federal and state government and which has the legal power to lead on immigration regulations and border security. In a press conference on Monday, Texas Gov. Abbott blamed Pres. Biden’s policies for the surge at the border, saying, “Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.” Opponents state the bill is unconstitutional, arguing the federal government is responsible for overseeing immigration law in the U.S, and argue the law will lead to racial profiling from police. President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, said, “Immigration is clearly a federal authority, and this legislation knowingly dances on the edge of constitutional cliffs at the expense of vulnerable children and families.” The bill is likely to face legal challenges.

Read More:

Texas governor signs bill that lets police arrest migrants who enter the US illegally (The Associated Press)

SB 4 Texas: DOJ pressed to intervene after controversial bill signed into law (ABC 7)

Texas to arrest migrants crossing border illegally under new state law (Reuters)

Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill making illegal immigration a state crime (The Texas Tribune)

by Sarah Pinkerton,