On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives passed a law that authorizes law enforcement to arrest foreign nationals crossing into Texas from Mexico without legal permission.
Per CBS Austin, Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) proposes $1.54 billion for extra border fences and patrols. The bill's parallel version, Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), makes illegal crossing a state misdemeanor, lets Texas peace officers arrest undocumented immigrants, and mandates a state judge to instruct them to return to Mexico instead of facing prosecution.
Despite this, the legislation faces objections. The Democratic Party is concerned about border control expenses and a potential overstep on judicial power. During the SB 3 discussion, state Rep. John Bryant (D-Dallas) commented that funds could be channeled into areas like hospitals, healthcare access, and prison infrastructure. An ABC13 report suggests that dissenters believe the laws contradict the 2012 United States Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. U.S., which limited local police's authority to arrest solely on immigration status.
By formulating its own immigration policies and sidestepping federal authority, Texas is treading on uncharted legal grounds. State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado (D-Dallas) pointed this out during the debate, stating that SB 4 is a challenge to the longstanding verdict of Arizona v. U.S.
The proposition of arresting individuals on immigration status grounds brings up debates about civil liberties and justice. State Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), sought to, through two failed amendments, compel law enforcement and prosecutors to verify the legality of an immigrant's status prior to prosecution.