As a seeming tidal wave of migrants and asylum-seekers flows across the southern border and the Biden Administration seems unable or unwilling to stop it, Texas under Gov. Greg Abbott continues to take bigger and bigger steps toward defending its border. It has erected land barriers, installed barriers in the Rio Grande, deployed the National Guard, and now a bill has headed to the Governor’s desk that would allow the state to deport illegal immigrants.
That bill is hugely important for Texas, and indeed for states which differ with the federal government on major policy objectives, as regulating immigration and deporting immigrants has traditionally been the preserve of the federal government, but this bill would grant such power to Texas.
Under the bill, which Texas lawmakers approved on Tuesday and Gov. Abbott is expected to sign, all police in Texas, including officers hundreds of miles from the Texas-Mexico border, can arrest migrants suspected of entering the country illegally.
The crime with which those migrants would be charged, if they did, in fact, enter the country illegally, is a misdemeanor, but a judge could also order the deportation of the migrant from the country, effectively allowing Texas to deport illegal immigrants within its borders. However, there is a substantial limitation on the bill: under the law, only those migrants who have been in the country for less than two years could be deported, not those who have been here for the long term.
Predictably, the mainly Democrat critics of the bill allege that it will lead to racial profiling. They also have expressed worry that illegal immigrant victims of crime would be unwilling to contact police officers because they could be deported.
Rebutting the allegations that the bill would lead to officers hundreds of miles away from the border racially profiling migrants to deport everyone, both one of the main sponsors of the bill, state Rep. David Spiller, and the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, said that there are substantial guardrails in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Specifically, Rep. Spiller said, “This is not, ‘Round up everyone who is here illegally and ship them back to Mexico.'” Explaining why, Director McCraw noted that it would be “almost impossible” for the law to be enforced in counties other than those not along the border, as under it an officer needs evidence that a migrant crossed illegally to make an arrest, and that would be difficult without witnessing an illegal crossing.
Gov. Abbott has not yet signed the bill, though he has continued to support the Operation Lone Star program. In a recent tweet on the subject, he posted pictures of National Guard soldiers defending the Texas-Mexico border and said that they were there to “repel illegal crossings.”
He wrote, as a caption for the photos, “Texas National Guard soldiers patrol the Rio Grande to deter and repel illegal crossings at our southern border. Texas works day and night to protect our nation in the Biden Administration’s absence.”
Featured image credit: Gov. Abbott X account
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