Texas Passes New Immigration Law
Billions for a wall plus a likely showdown with the feds.
Via the Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill making illegal immigration a state crime.
Senate Bill 3 earmarks $1.54 billion in state money to continue construction of barriers along the 1,200-mile border, and allows the state to spend up to $40 million for state troopers to patrol Colony Ridge, a housing development near Houston that far-right publications claim is a magnet for undocumented immigrants.
The money would be added to at least $1.5 billion in contracts the state has issued since September 2021 to build about 40 miles of border barrier. As of August, Texas had erected 16 miles of steel bollard barriers in Starr, Cameron, Val Verde and Webb counties.
Senate Bill 4 creates a state crime for illegally crossing the border from Mexico — a new law that is likely to force a legal showdown with the federal government.
The law allows a judge to drop the charges if a migrant agrees to return to Mexico.
Two immediate thoughts. First, this creates a basis for rounding up migrants (and almost certainly an increase in harassment of Hispanic Americans since this will incentivize state law enforcement to check documents based on what people look like). Second, I can’t help but continue to think that the dollars being expended on border barriers could be spent far more efficaciously in numerous ways.
Without any doubt, this will lead the federal government to step in and sue on the basis that this is not a state matter. This reminds me of SB1070 passed in Arizona, portions of which were overturned by SCOTUS on the basis that immigration status is a federal issue.
From a purely political point of view, I am going to note that this is smart for Abbott. It will be met warmly by his supporters and will resonate nationally with Republicans. It represents the kind of hardcore enforcement and barrier-building policy preferences that are quite popular in those circles. That these measures will almost certainly not solve (or even appreciably affect) the migrant problem facing the country will not matter.