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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott preempts federal immigration power, outlaws illegal border crossings

The controversial move may however be headed for the courts since the Supreme Court has made clear that immigration law is solely vested within the federal government and not the states

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott | Shutterstock

December 18, 2023 8:12pm

Updated: December 18, 2023 8:12pm

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed a new law into effect outlawing entry into his state. The  new measure will empower Texas state law enforcement officers and agencies to subvert federal authorities and unilaterally make arrests.

The law, known as Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) which is scheduled to take effect in March, arms Texas law enforcement officers with the legal tools to detain and charge unlawful border crossers.

The law allows a judge to drop the charges if a migrant agrees to return to Mexico. It also gives judges the power to order their deportation, CNN reported.

Speaking from Brownsville, Abbott said the Lone Star state needs to shield itself from drug cartels, and blamed President Biden’s immigration policies for the unfolding crisis at the southwest border.

“Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself,” the Texas governor plainly said.

The controversial move may however be headed for the judicial branch since the Supreme Court has made clear that immigration law is solely vested within the federal government and not the states.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio sent a letter, signed by other Democratic members of Congress, urging the U.S. Justice Department to sue Texas to stop the law before it takes effect in March.

“We urge you to assert your authority over federal immigration and foreign policy and pursue legal action, as appropriate, to stop this unconstitutional and dangerous legislation from going into effect,” the letter says.

Under Abbott's leadership, Texas has conducted a unilateral effort to lock down its border with Mexico.

The effort, labeled, “Operation Lone Star” has heated up tensions with the federal government, particularly the Biden administration.

One of the hottest disputes arose after Texas deployed a floating buoy barrier in the Rio Grande river.

The Lone Star governor has also bussed undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities such as Los Angeles and northern cities such as Chicago and New York.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has complained repeatedly and blamed the Biden administration for a brewing lack of housing for migrants, and a crisis they can no longer control.

The operation has so far cleared more than 50,000 undocumented migrants who were sent to sanctuary cities in October, and more than 18,000 heading to New York City alone.

In July, ADN reported that Texas was handing flyers to newly arrived migrants to consider relocating to other U.S. cities.

Some of the migrants who have been redirected to northern cities have complained about sleeping outside in harsh, cold weather and lack of job opportunities. Some of them have even expressed an intent to return to their Latin American homelands despite facing possible repression since their court dates are scheduled for as much as 10 years from now.

Earlier this year, Abbott called upon other state governors to mobilize to their National Guard to aid Texas's mission at its border.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.