The law would make it a state crime to cross into Texas from Mexico illegally. It would pave the way for Texas officers to arrest people they suspected of entering the country without proper documentation.
As the Associated Press noted, “Legal experts and immigrant rights groups have railed against the Texas bill as a clear conflict with the U.S. government’s authority to regulate immigration.”
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe is backing SB4, contending his office has already seen 226 pursuits since January compared to 168 for all of last year.
Despite criticism of the law and questions about whether it is constitutional, Coe said he believes it is legal.
“Under the constitution, I think it is legal because A: We’re in a border crisis. B: We’ve seen the huge number influx. I think we have enough grounds there to protect our people under the constitution,” Coe said.
Republican Texas State Rep. David Spiller also sought to clarify the bill, emphasizing its distinction from Arizona’s stringent “show me your papers” law, in an exclusive interview on “NewsNation Prime.”
“I think worth noting is the fact that this is a misdemeanor. We’re not trying to round up folks that have been here for years,” Spiller said.
Critics, including Democratic Congressmen Greg Casar and Joaquin Castro, raised concerns about potential racial profiling and the broad scope of the legislation. They argue that the bill could turn every Texas police officer into an immigration officer and may disproportionately target individuals based on their skin color.
The pursuits Coe spoke about often ensue when a person is trying to evade law enforcement, as many of them are attempting to smuggle undocumented individuals who just crossed into Texas further into the U.S. Those people being smuggled could be arrested under SB4. Officials, however, have to prove they crossed the border illegally.
Texas lawmakers have also recently passed a bill strengthening criminal penalties for those convicted of human smuggling. It also awaits Abbott’s signature.
A 17-year-old passenger who spoke with NewsNation said he is being tried as an adult for smuggling. The Dallas resident said it was his first time attempting to smuggle someone. Jonathan Rodriguez said he responded to an ad on Telegram that promised to pay him and his friend $1,300 each.
The plot failed when the driver ran a stop sign.