Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s latest legislative move is triggering alarms among human rights groups and legal experts. The Republican governor is set to sign two controversial bills in Brownsville that critics argue blatantly defy the U.S. Constitution and escalate anti-migrant sentiments.
Senate Bill 3 earmarks a staggering $1.54 billion for border security, including the construction of barriers to curb undocumented immigration from Mexico. The bill works in tandem with S.B. 4, which essentially authorizes law enforcement to arrest anyone suspected of entering Texas without documentation. This law not only creates a state crime for unlawful entry from a foreign country but also imposes penalties like jail time or fines.
Domingo Garcia of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) didn’t mince words, condemning the governor’s actions as a calculated move to gain political leverage at the expense of human lives. He highlighted the hypocrisy of Republican leaders who, under the guise of Christianity, turn their backs on the vulnerable, aiding profiteers like drug cartels and human traffickers.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service echoed similar concerns, stressing that these measures threaten asylum-seekers safety and dignity and undermine the legal system’s foundational principles. She criticized Texas for criminalizing the act of seeking refuge, accusing the state of abandoning compassion and due process.
Jennifer Babaie from Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and Tsion Gurmu of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration shared grave concerns about the bill’s potential to encourage racial profiling and discrimination, especially against people of color. ACLU of Texas legal director Adriana Piñon warned that Texas leadership’s willingness to inflict suffering on immigrants should alarm all Texans, regardless of political affiliation.
Dylan Corbett from the Hope Border Institute highlighted that S.B. 4 solidifies Operation Lone Star and Texas’ aggressive stance at the border. He called for the Biden administration to intervene and ensure these harmful policies are reversed.
While the U.S. Department of Justice has taken action against some of Abbott’s border measures, there’s anxiety that President Biden, eyeing reelection, might yield to Republican demands on federal immigration policy. However, the legal future of S.B. 4 remains uncertain. With potential lawsuits looming and criticism from former federal immigration judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, the bill may ultimately face a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Organizations across Texas are gearing up to defend families against what they see as blatant civil rights violations embedded in S.B. 4. With a united front, they vow not to back down in safeguarding the rights and dignity of migrants in the face of these draconian measures.