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HomeGeneralTexas State Governor to Authorize Peace Officers to Arrest Illegal Immigrants

Texas State Governor to Authorize Peace Officers to Arrest Illegal Immigrants

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A picture of Texas State Governor Greg Abbott
Source: Pinterest

For two years, Texas has pushed boundaries on the U.S.-Mexico border. The state has been busing migrants across America, jailing thousands for trespass, and stringing razor wire along the Rio Grande.

However, last month, Texas Republicans sent the governor SB4 a bill that would authorize local police to handle immigration enforcement. Also, this bill makes illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border a state misdemeanor. 

Thanks to the Texas state government’s freedom and autonomy, federalism is poised to win significantly. Texas Governor Greg Abbott made a promise on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo. He promised to sign the SB4 bill that will make illegally crossing Texas’ border with Mexico a state crime.

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“In two weeks, I’ll be signing a new law in the state of Texas that will make it illegal for people to enter the state of Texas from another country illegally and authorize every peace officer in the state of Texas to arrest those people entering our country illegally,” Abbott said.

According to The Texas Tribune, the law will have significant implications. Senate Bill 4, approved last month, will authorize Texas police to arrest illegal immigrants on state charges. Under the legislation, an illegal crossing between ports of entry will result in a Class B misdemeanor. However, a prior conviction will make the charge a second-degree felony.

Consequently, Texas state police will not have unlimited discretion, as they should not under any circumstances. However, the legislation forbids arrests in secondary schools, churches, and healthcare facilities.

POLL — Should the U.S. Government Create a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants?

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In addition, Republican state Rep. David Spiller noted that the bill would authorize police to focus only on immigrants who crossed illegally in the last two to three years. Also, he said statutes of limitations would prevent law enforcement officials from targeting any illegal immigrant who arrived before then.

However, opponents have lined up to denounce the bill. According to The Texas Tribune, opponents say the bill will only encourage “racial profiling.” Similarly, in a statement following the bill’s passage, the National Immigration Law Center complained of “hate-mongering and intimidation.”

The organization also said that only the federal government has the sole authority to regulate immigration policy. “The Texas Legislature is wrong to have passed it, and Governor Abbott will be wrong if he signs it,” the organization said. “We call on Texas to abandon this cruel, illegal scheme and recognize that immigrants make Texas and our nation stronger.”

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The Texas Tribune noted that federal courts have ruled that only the federal government may enforce immigration laws. In 2012, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local police could not arrest people based on their immigration status. Consequently, opponents argue the SB4 bill contradicts the very nature of America’s constitutional structure.

On one hand, when the federal government operates within its legitimate constitutional sphere, states may not nullify federal law. On the other hand, what happens when the federal government acts outside its constitutional sphere? James Madison wrote that the states must protect their citizens when the federal government tramples their liberties.

Hence, Texas police may not enforce federal immigration law. However, Republicans argue that the people of Texas have sovereign authority. They cannot pass a law that conflicts with federal law and remain Union members. However, they can pass a law to protect themselves if it does not conflict with federal laws. 

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