Officials angered by bill allowing Texas police to deport immigrants

A Texas National Guard troop directs a migrant mother towards a U.S. Border Patrol processing center after she and more than 1,000 others crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico on December 18, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. A surge as many as 12,000 immigrants per day crossing the U.S. southern border has overwhelmed U.S. immigration authorities in recent weeks. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A Texas National Guard troop directs a migrant mother towards a U.S. Border Patrol processing center after she and more than 1,000 others crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico on December 18, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. A surge as many as 12,000 immigrants per day crossing the U.S. southern border has overwhelmed U.S. immigration authorities in recent weeks. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

John Moore/Getty Images

A bill recently signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott which made it a criminal offense in Texas to illegally enter the country has made some major headlines over the past week. The bill which essentially allows state officers to take a Texas-sized step into territory only chartered by federal judges and law enforcement, allowing local magistrates and officers to essentially deport immigrants. While human rights groups have already begun legally challenging the law, an immigration attorney told MySA this new practice would create a logistical nightmare if it went into practice.

In the past, it’s been left to federal judges and law enforcement to manage immigration matters, but Senate Bill 4 signed into law by Abbott earlier this week would now allow local agencies to take matters into their own hands, either charging an individual with a crime or giving them the option to be deported by state peace officers. According to immigration attorney Guillermo Hernandez, who serves on the executive committee for the regional Texas chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, this inevitably will lead to officers profiling individuals.

“I think what that means for our local community is now any police officer, because the bill is pretty vague as it defines who is allowed to do these stops and make these arrests, is any peace officer from the chief of police, theoretically, down to a fire marshal or a park ranger, any officer that’s charged with keeping the peace in Texas can stop and inquire as to whether somebody has entered legally in the United States if they have reasonable suspicion,” Hernandez told MySA. “I think the problem is how do you know? Where does that reasonable suspicion come from? I think, naturally, we’re going to see some racial profiling because the story comes from people entering the southern border through Mexico, and the majority of those entering the border are going to be from Central America, Mexico, and Latin American countries.”

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

More For You

Problems in implementing SB 4

FILE - Women wait in a Border Patrol holding facility Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, in Tucson, Ariz.
FILE – Women wait in a Border Patrol holding facility Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, in Tucson, Ariz.Gregory Bull/AP

Not only did Hernandez say this sudden flooding of local courts could cause a major backlog, he said local state district court judges don’t have experience, or jurisdiction, to consider affirmative defenses for legal status in the U.S. Further, he says those seeking asylum could face issues if they’re charged with entering illegally. While in the process for seeking citizenship in the U.S. in an effort to seek asylum, Hernandez says immigrants don’t receive legal citizenship until they’re granted asylum. So, if someone in the process is deported by unqualified or undertrained magistrates or law enforcement in Texas, their asylum is considered abandoned once they leave the country.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

“I think there’s fear now like how do you prepare for it? March 7 is when it would go into effect,” Hernandez said. “We have clients saying, ‘How is this going to affect my case?’ We definitely hear people that are worried who have had a case pending for maybe a long time in immigration court because immigration court is super backlogged as well. And it may take years before you actually get to your trial to present your case. The way SB 4 is written, there’s no restriction that it’s just to the border or within a certain distance of the border. It’s just a statewide law, so you could be stopped anywhere – in San Antonio, up north, anywhere in the state where a peace officer has reasonable suspicion that you entered the United States illegally.”

For those who are fearful of being mislabeled as having entered the U.S. illegally, Hernandez recommends carrying around any paperwork that’s proof of legal status even though many officers charged with enforcing this law may not be familiar with such documentation.

“I really don’t know how do you get to that reasonable suspicion without racially profiling somebody,” Hernandez asked. “I do think we’ve seen that fear of our clients of people in the community of how do you prepare for this? What can you do? And what is this going to mean for my case and my immigration status and quite frankly for their families?”

What Texas leaders have to say about SB 4

Hernandez is by far not the only person speaking out against the as judges, politicians, and public figures have all taken to social media to voice disapproval of the bill signed into law by Abbott.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

“SB 4 will make communities across Texas, from Brownsville to Harris County, less safe, and it will not get us any closer to meaningful immigration reform,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement. “Now that local police offices in Texas will be in charge of detaining immigrations for deportation, the trust between communities and local law enforcement will further break down and threaten public safety.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling for the White House to take action after the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 4.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling for the White House to take action after the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 4.

Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspap/Houston Chronicle via Getty Imag

Hidalgo accuses Abbott and other supports of the legislation of weaponizing immigration for political gain rather than working toward developing sound immigration policy or building safer borders between Texas and Mexico. Hidalgo was one of many local leaders who penned letters to President Joe Biden to halt the passing of SB 4 or its implementation in Texas.

Several congressmen penned a letter to the U.S. Justice Department, specifically addressing U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking to halt the implementation of the controversial legislation which will likely be challenged in the Supreme Court. Texas Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to voice his opposition to the legislation.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

“Senate Bill 4 is unconstitutional, a recipe for racial profiling, and worse than Arizona’s ‘Show Me Your Papers’ bill,” Gutierrez tweeted. “IT will not fix a broken immigration system, it will not secure the border, and it sure as hell will not keep Texans safe.”

Original News Source Link

Need digital marketing for your business? Check out KingdomX Digital Marketing San Antonio!

GET FREE NEWS TODAY!

You Can Unsubscribe At Any Time!


This will close in 0 seconds