Home » Texas Gov. Abbot Signs Immigration Law SB4 That Allows State to Arrest Migrants

Texas Gov. Abbot Signs Immigration Law SB4 That Allows State to Arrest Migrants

by Richard A Reagan

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has enacted one of the most stringent immigration laws in the United States. Known as SB4, this law authorizes state officials to arrest and initiate deportation proceedings against migrants suspected of illegal border crossings. [Source]

Governor Abbott, at a signing event in Brownsville, emphasized the law’s intent: “The goal of Senate Bill 4 is to stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas. Senate Bill 4 is now law in the state of Texas.” Set to take effect in March 2024, SB4 has already ignited a firestorm of criticism and legal scrutiny, particularly from civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers.

SB4 empowers state law enforcement to detain migrants on new, state-level illegal entry charges, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies based on the circumstances of the entry or re-entry. The law also enables Texas judges to issue orders compelling migrants to return to Mexico, although the logistics of enforcing these orders remain uncertain, given the federal government’s control over deportation facilities and processes.


The Mexican government and advocacy organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have voiced strong opposition to SB4. The ACLU has pledged to challenge the law’s legality, citing concerns over potential racial profiling and the overwhelming of state resources. Oni Blair, executive director at the ACLU of Texas, asserts that SB4 “overrides federal immigration law” and “fuels racial profiling.” [Source]


The White House spokesperson, Angelo Fernández Hernández, criticized the law, stating, “This is an extreme law that will make communities in Texas less safe. Generally speaking, the federal government — not individual states — is charged with determining how and when to remove noncitizens for violating immigration laws.” 


This law is the latest in a series of measures by Texas under Gov. Abbott’s direction, challenging the Biden administration’s immigration policies. These measures include busing migrants to various Democratic-led cities and deploying National Guard units to reinforce border security.


Comparisons are being drawn to Arizona’s SB 1070, a contentious 2010 law partially struck down by the Supreme Court. Immigration expert Stephen Yale-Loehr remarked, “It’s by far the most anti-immigrant bill that I have seen,” underscoring the law’s sweeping nature compared to Arizona’s legislation.


Amidst escalating migrant apprehensions, with over 2 million cases recorded in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, SB4 is seen by supporters as a necessary deterrent against illegal immigration. 

As Texas braces for legal challenges and the law’s impending implementation, SB4 stands as a testament to the state’s resolve to assert its role in immigration control.

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