Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed three bills into law Monday which will allow Texas to enforce the U.S. border with Mexico.
Gov. Abbott made the announcement regarding the signing of these bills next to the border wall in Brownsville, Texas, touting the legislation as an effort to stem the unprecedented levels of illegal immigration along the southern border in the face of federal inaction.
In an official press release, Abbott criticized the Biden administration’s response to the current immigration crisis, implying that the administration’s lack of a response to the crisis forced him to act.
“President Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself,” said Abbott.
Of the three bills, the one which has garnered the most attention is Senate Bill 4 from Special Session #4.
According to Abbott’s press release, this bill will “establish the offenses of illegal entry and illegal reentry into the state and would allow judges and magistrates to order certain persons to return to the foreign nation from which they entered in lieu of prosecution or adjudication.”
The penalty for illegal entry would be “a class B misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000).”
If an illegal alien was caught entering the state and was previously convicted of illegal entry, the penalty would be “a state-jail felony (180 days to two years in a state jail and an optional fine of up to $10,000).”
A conviction for illegal entry would carry even harsher penalties if “the defendant’s removal came after a conviction for the commission of two or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against a person.”
The signing of these new laws happened amidst a surge of migrants at the Texas-Mexico border.
Due to the migrant surge, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the closure of cross border rail operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso Texas on December 17.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, cross border railroad operations were shut down in these locations due to “a recent resurgence of smuggling operations moving migrants through Mexico via freight trains.”