Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation Monday that will allow police in the state to arrest migrants who cross the border illegally. The law, known as SB4, makes it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry. The offense will be a Class B misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders would potentially face a second-degree felony and a punishment of two to 20 years in prison.
The law, which takes effect in March, gives Texas judges the authority to order illegal immigrants to leave the country.
Under the new law, illegal immigrants in police custody will be given the choice to either agree to the judge’s order to leave the U.S. or be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of illegal entry.
Judges will be able to drop the charges if migrants agree to return to Mexico.
Illegal aliens ordered to leave would be sent across ports of entry back to Mexico, even if they are not Mexican citizens, according to the measure.
Those caught re-entering the country will face penalties ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. Migrants who refuse to leave could face arrest again with stiffer penalties under felony charges.
Abbott also signed a bill earmarking more than $1 billion for border wall construction.
After the governor signed the new laws, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas announced it would challenge SB4 in court. The Biden regime is also expected to challenge the measure.
Meanwhile, more than 20 congressional Democrats signed a letter urging the U.S. Justice Department to sue to stop the law.
“SB 4 is dangerous for the people of Texas and interferes with the federal government´s exclusive authority over immigration and foreign affairs,” the letter read.
In recent weeks up to 10,000 illegal aliens from Central America, South America, the Middle East and China have poured over the southern border every day. The illegals, who are largely trafficked into the country by drug cartels, are quickly processed by the Biden regime and then flown or bussed into the interior of the country at the taxpayers’ expense.
About eight million people have reportedly crossed the border illegally since Biden took office in January 2021.
Monday night, the flow of illegal immigrants in Eagle Pass swelled to more than 4,000 with no end in sight. There are reportedly 4,000 migrants already in custody.
— Griff Jenkins (@GriffJenkins) December 19, 2023
“I’ve spent hundreds of days there over the last 2+ years and I’ve never seen it like this,” said Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin.
BREAKING: Video from a contact on the ground in Eagle Pass, TX right now shows a mass of thousands of migrants waiting to be processed by Border Patrol after they crossed illegally today. I’ve spent hundreds of days there over the last 2+ years and I’ve never seen it like this. pic.twitter.com/JPNYY7sPxI
— Bill Melugin (@BillMelugin_) December 19, 2023
During the bill’s signing ceremony in front of a section of border fence in Brownsville, Abbott accused Joe Biden of doing “nothing to halt illegal immigration.”
Today in Brownsville, I signed three new laws to better protect Texans AND Americans from Biden’s open border policies.
Illegal entry into Texas is now a crime subject to removal or imprisonment.
Texas will also fund new wall construction & increase human smuggling penalties. pic.twitter.com/EVGcYf4HJs
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 19, 2023
“Joe Biden’s deliberate inaction has decimated America,” the governor said. “The consequences of [the new law] are so extreme that the people being smuggled by the cartels, they will not want to be coming into the state of Texas,” he added.
Abbott defended the new law as constitutional, saying Texas had been left to ‘fend for itself.’
He said the bill passed by the Republican-majority Texas state legislature last month was needed to ‘stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas.’
Federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled that immigration laws can only be enforced by the federal government. But some Texas Republicans have said they hope the new law will push the issue back before a U.S. Supreme Court that is more conservative since three appointees of former President Donald Trump joined it.
Texas Republicans have repeatedly butt heads with the Biden regime over its refusal to secure the 1,950-mile southern border.
The state has experimented with a range of measures to deter people who cross illegally under its Operation Lone Star, including deploying National Guard troops to the border, blocking migrants with deadly concertina wire and installing a floating barrier over a stretch of the Rio Grande.
Texas has bused more than 65,000 migrants to cities across America since August 2022 and recently installed razor wire along the banks of the Rio Grande, which has snagged and injured some asylum-seekers.
A three-judge panel of 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month ruled that Texas must remove the floating barrier although Texas is seeking a review by the full court.
The unprecedented surge of illegals crossing the border in recent days has prompted the Biden regime to temporarily shut down two railroad border crossings in Texas, Fox News reported.
“CBP is continuing to surge all available resources to safely process migrants in response to increased levels of migrant encounters at the Southwest Border, fueled by smugglers peddling disinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals,” U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said in a statement released on Sunday. “After observing a recent resurgence of smuggling organizations moving migrants through Mexico via freight trains, CBP is taking additional actions to surge personnel and address this concerning development, including in partnership with Mexican authorities.”
Last Tuesday, Border Patrol reported more than 10,000 migrant encounters in a single day, slightly down from a week prior when there was reportedly a record-breaking 12,000 migrant encounters.