Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott took a bold stance in response to what many view as President Joe Biden’s lack of action concerning the southern border crisis. In Brownsville, Governor Abbott signed three bills into law aimed at deterring illegal immigration, emphasizing the Lone Star State’s need to take matters into its own hands amid what some perceive as federal negligence.
Governor Abbott’s move is seen as a direct response to what’s widely considered a chaotic situation at the southern border, which critics mockingly refer to as “WHAT southern border?” The bills signed by Abbott are expected to spark legal battles, intensifying the ongoing struggle over immigration policies and border control.
One of the signed bills, Senate Bill 3, allocates an additional $1.5 billion for constructing barriers and grants up to $40 million to enable state troopers to patrol Colony Ridge, a housing development near Houston. This area, described by some far-right publications as a magnet for undocumented immigrants, is known to be one of the largest ‘colonias’ in the United States, home to a significant population of illegal migrants with reported cartel affiliations.
Another bill, known as SB4, heightens the minimum sentence for offenses related to immigrant smuggling or operating stash houses from two years to a mandatory ten-year term. However, it’s the second SB4 that may face legal scrutiny, criminalizing illegal entry into Texas outside of designated ports of entry. First-time offenders could face misdemeanor charges and up to six months in jail, while repeat offenders might encounter felony charges and a potential sentence ranging from two to 20 years in prison.
Remarkably, the law allows judges to drop charges if an illegal immigrant agrees to return to Mexico. Critics and proponents of these laws expect legal challenges, especially considering the escalating numbers of illegal crossings, estimated at over 16 million as of June.
Predictably, the White House dismissed the laws as “extreme,” reiterating the federal government’s authority in immigration matters while countering Texas’s aggressive approach. The clash between Texas lawmakers and the Biden administration seems imminent, with Democrats urging the Justice Department to intervene against the state’s new legislation.
Recent legal battles, such as the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily suspending a lower court order that sanctioned Biden’s Border Patrol decisions, suggest an ongoing tug-of-war between federal and state authorities regarding border control measures. Governor Abbott’s initiatives, set to take effect in the coming months, will likely face significant legal scrutiny, given the complexity and divisiveness of immigration policies in the current political landscape.