Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed Senate Bill 4 into law, granting state authorities the power to apprehend and deport individuals believed to have entered the United States illegally through the border with Mexico.
The signing, which took place in the border town of Brownsville on Monday, positions the Lone Star State for a potential legal clash with the federal government, traditionally responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
Governor Abbott, a Republican, accused President Joe Biden of failing to address what he termed a “tidal wave of illegal entry” into Texas. He asserted that the new measure would potentially reduce unauthorized arrivals by 50-75%. Abbott blamed Biden’s perceived inaction, stating, “Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself,” and predicted severe consequences for those attempting unauthorized entry.
Under the provisions of the newly enacted law, Texas state police are empowered to arrest individuals suspected of illegal border crossings, with local judges authorized to issue deportation orders. Critics are likening this legislation to the most extreme attempts by state authorities to regulate immigration since the 2010 Arizona law, which was largely invalidated by the US Supreme Court.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas announced its intention to challenge the law in court, contending that it “overrides federal immigration law” and “fuels racial profiling.” Over 20 congressional Democrats have also signed a letter urging the US Justice Department to take legal action to prevent the enforcement of the measure.
The backdrop to this development includes record numbers of migrants apprehended for unauthorized entry from Mexico since Biden assumed office in 2021, with a significant portion of the arrests occurring in Texas and neighboring New Mexico. Former President Donald Trump, endorsed by Governor Abbott for the 2024 presidential election, has consistently made immigration a central theme in his bid to return to the White House.
Trump, during a recent visit to Edinburg, Texas, near the US-Mexico border, asserted that the US currently has the most insecure border in history, characterizing the situation as an “invasion.”
This rhetoric drew a strong rebuke from the White House, with Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates condemning it as echoing “the grotesque rhetoric of fascists and violent white supremacists” and posing a threat to democracy, public safety, and the dignity and rights of all Americans.