Abbott Signs Bill Criminalizing Illegal Entry Into Texas

A bill signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday will criminalize illegal entry into Texas and give state officials more authority to arrest migrants who cross the border into the United States.

The measure, dubbed SB4, was signed during a ceremony held at the base of the border wall in Brownsville.

As he introduced the law, Abbott said, “Four years ago, the United States had the fewest illegal border crossings in decades. It was because of four policies put in place by the Trump Administration that led to such a low number of illegal crossings. President Biden has eliminated all of those policies and done nothing to halt illegal immigration. President Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.”

SB4, which was initially sent to the governor in November, provides what the governor’s office described as “civil immunity and indemnification for local and state government officials, employees, and contractors for lawsuits resulting from the enforcement of these provisions.”

It would be the opposite of the Biden admin’s catch-and-release policy, as it allows the deportation of people who cross into Texas from Mexico.

Under the law, illegal reentry into the country from a foreign country will be made an offense punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

Aside from seeing to the end of repeated attempts to enter the country, the law makes it possible for an offender to be sent back to the country from which they entered Texas. This can be done under a process called Stipulated Deportation, in which a migrant who has been deported in the past waives his right to another immigration hearing and agrees to removal instead.

The measure has been opposed by Democrats who claim that enforcing immigration law is unconstitutional on the part of a state. Republicans have, however, championed the law as a much needed solution to the border crisis as the federal government has failed to solve the problem.

In addition to SB4, Abbott signed other bills, including one that appropriates over $1 billion in funding for moves meant to bolster border security such as barriers.

The second measure increases the penalty for human trafficking by setting a minimum of ten years prison term for the offense.