New immigration law in Texas: authorities will now be able to arrest illegal immigrants

In what could lead to a legal battle with the federal government, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation creating a criminal offense for illegal entry into the Lone Star State from a foreign nation.

Within the framework of the border crisis, protested by both Republicans and Democrats alike, Greg Abbott (R) signed a law that allows illegal immigrants to be arrested by Texas authorities. According to the governor of the Lone Star State, it was President Joe Biden's "inaction" that prompted the legislation, which will create prison sentences of up to 20 years for those found guilty.

The bill was signed at the southern border, sending a direct message to the Federal Government, which is expected to enter into a legal battle with Texas over the implementation of the law.

"The goal of Senate Bill 4 is to stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas. It creates a criminal offense for illegal entry into Texas from a foreign nation for repeat offenders, that creates the events of illegal reentry with a potential prison sentence term of up to 20 years," Abbott said during the ceremony, broadcast live on social media.

"The bill provides a mechanism to order an illegal immigrant to return to the foreign nation from which they entered," he added.

The signing is part of Operation Lone Star, which aims to stop illegal immigration along the 1,200-mile border. For example, about $850,000 was spent on a river barrier consisting of a row of buoys separated by saw blades, which support a submerged mesh network designed to deter migrants from crossing the Rio Grande.

What does the new Texas law do?

Specifically, the legislation allows police to detain immigrants who illegally cross the border and gives judges the authority to order them to leave the United States.

Although immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility, which could lead to a conflict of powers, Texas Republicans justified themselves by stating that the Biden administration is not doing enough to prevent and control illegal immigration.

Indeed, some thirty judges signed a letter in December condemning the Republican initiative and calling it "unconstitutional."

The new law, which will go into effect in March, allows any Texas agent to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally. Once in custody, they could accept a Texas judge's order to leave the United States or be prosecuted for misdemeanor illegal entry charges. Immigrants who do not comply could face rearrest on charges of more serious crimes.