Criminalization of migration in Texas – El Sol de México

On December 18, Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, enacted a package of laws approved by the 88th Legislature of that state of the American Union. There are two reforms with various anti-immigrant measures: the first is Senate Bill 3 of Special Session #4 (Huffman/Jetton), which allocates $1.54 billion to local authorities (Police departments), to increase surveillance on the border with our country (that is, implementing the SB4 bill, which will be described in the following lines), in addition to the construction, operation and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure, that is, a wall.

According to Adriana Piñon, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU of Texas), “[…] “The state wastes billions of taxpayer dollars on failed border enforcement policies that we could spend on education, better infrastructure and better health care.”

The second is the Senate Bill 4 from Special Session #4 (Perry/Spiller or SB4). According to information on the Texas Governor’s Office website, that bill:

Creates a criminal offense for illegal entry into this state from a foreign nation. He cracks down on repeated attempts to enter Texas by creating the crime of illegal reentry and penalizes violators with up to 20 years in prison. It also provides the mechanism for ordering an offender to return to the foreign nation from which he entered or attempted to enter this state. The law provides civil immunity and indemnification to state and local government officials, employees, and contractors from claims resulting from the application of these provisions.

This latest bill is scheduled to come into effect on March 5, 2024, although this may change depending on the outcome of legal actions brought by any affected or interested party.

For her part, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, stated that the SB4 bill will not serve to increase security in Texas towns near the border with Mexico.

Meanwhile, according to the ACLU of Texas, which filed a lawsuit in federal court in the city of Austin, challenging the SB4 bill, it would allow local and state authorities to arrest and detain people they suspect who entered Texas from another country, without federal authorization. It also enables Texas judges—who are not trained in immigration law nor have adequate authority to enforce it—to order the deportation of a person without due process and before he or she has the opportunity to seek humanitarian protection.

Remember that – as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already expressed – everything related to US foreign policy corresponds to Congress and the president of that country. In this sense, immigration control is a federal competence; Hence, the Government of Mexico also made the decision to challenge the SB4 bill.

The head of the Mexican State described this bill as inhumane, and pointed out that it has political overtones, because it is part of the framework of the 2024 electoral process, which will also be carried out in that country and for which Governor Abbott will seek settle on the candidacy for Vice President, by the Republican Party.

In addition, the project entails a series of serious impacts on human rights, such as family separation, discrimination and racial profiling.

The criminalization of migration is a phenomenon that should not be trivialized, and anti-immigrant measures such as those enacted in Texas must be combated by all available legal means, since, generally, people migrate out of necessity and not out of complacency; let’s not forget it.

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