Texas Bill Will Put Illegal Border Crossers Behind Bars … Or Will It?
The Texas Senate has passed a bill that would impose jail time on illegal aliens entering the state.
SB 2424 authorizes Texas law enforcement to arrest and prosecute all people who cross the border illegally anywhere in Texas. Punishment starts with up to one year in jail for a first-time offender, two years in state jail for a second-time offender and up to life in prison for convicted felons who illegally cross the border.
Brent Smith, prosecutor in rural Kinney County, which fronts the Rio Grande, told FAIR in an interview this week:
“The violence and lawlessness occurring along the southern border is not sustainable for any sovereign state. While critics of border security solutions are always eager to condemn the effort, they never propose any feasible solutions of their own. SB 2424 would help bring law and order to the border region and safeguard the safety and security of Texans.”
Smith has used existing state law to prosecute illegal aliens on trespassing charges. But such charges are contingent on cooperation of affected landowners. Lawmakers believe SB 2424 would give the state a stronger tool to deter and apprehend migrants.
If the measure becomes law, Texas can expect the Biden administration to immediately challenge it as a breach of Arizona v. United States.
“If the bill passes I think it’s going to be found impermissible pursuant to the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona, which found that immigration is a pre-empted field in which the states have only limited authority to legislate,” says Matt O’Brien, director of investigations for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).
A decade later the U.S.-Mexico border is wide open, and Texas is bearing the brunt of historic, unending waves of illegal migration. Over the past three years, Texas has spent more than $4 billion on border security through its Operation Lone Star – and the state is increasingly pressing the edge of the legal envelope.
Most recently, Gov. Greg Abbott authorized the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety to start returning migrants to ports of entry. The state is also building its own border barricades and legislation creating a Border Protection Unit is pending.
“At the end of the day, SB 2424 is designed to create a deterrent to those who unlawfully enter Texas,” Smith says. “In creating that deterrent, it is crucial that funding exists for the arrest, prosecution and confinement [of illegal aliens]. With all three elements of the deterrent present, SB 2424 has the potential to be very effective in securing the safety and security of Texans.”
With the federal Title 42 health order expiring next month, Texas is bracing for yet more waves of migrants crossing the Rio Grande. As long as Washington fails to enforce America’s immigration laws, legislation along the lines of SB 2424 will keep cropping up – however long their legal odds may be. In the end, Texas is left with few options in the face of the Biden administration’s refusal to uphold federal immigration law.