Awareness - December 1, 2023 - We Welcome

Awareness - December 1, 2023

A Texas state bill that would make irregularly crossing the U.S.-Mexico border a state crime is on Governor Abbott’s desk

In late November, the Texas Congress passed Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a bill that would make it a state crime for individuals to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry and would give Texas judges the authority to deport people to Mexico without coordinating with federal or Mexican officials. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign it into law. If he does so, the law will take effect in March 2024.

The Supreme Court has ruled that only the federal government can enforce immigration laws. Republican Representative David Spiller said the bill is not intended to create another Supreme Court case, however Texas Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said, “We ask for you guys to consider laws that might enable us to go and challenge that [2012 Supreme Court] ruling again.”

Spiller stated that the law is meant to target migrants who have recently crossed the border between ports of entry and not those who have been living in the state for many years. It does not limit arrests to areas along the border but would allow law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants without documentation at any location within the state.

SB4 and other immigration policies developed by the state of Texas have elicited a strong response from the Mexican government and threaten U.S.-Mexico relations, according to a recent article by Arturo Castellanos, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the National Immigration Forum. “The Government of Mexico reiterates its rejection of any measure that contemplates the involuntary return of migrants without respect for due process,” reads a Nov. 15 statement by Mexico’s secretary of foreign relations.

Congress is attempting to attach immigration limits to the Biden Administration’s foreign aid request

President Biden’s $106 billion foreign-aid proposal includes funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other national security needs, including the processing of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, but no changes to immigration policy. However, Senate Republicans are demanding that the inclusion of restrictions on asylum and humanitarian parole be added to the package.

A bipartisan group of senators has been working on a deal that would make it more difficult for migrants to pass the initial screening for asylum. However, Democrats are not in agreement with the desire of Republicans to restrict humanitarian parole. A group of 11 Senate Democrats have signed a statement stating that “[a]ny proposal considering permanent changes to our asylum and immigration system needs to include a clear path to legalization for long-standing undocumented immigrants.”