The legislation, known as Senate Bill 4, empowers police officers across all agencies to arrest migrants entering the state illegally. This announcement comes amidst the escalating crisis at the U.S. southern border, which has seen an unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants, largely attributed to President Biden's open border policies.
Governor Abbott made the announcement during an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures," where the discussion centered on the border crisis. "Texas is having to step up and do even more to make sure that we deny illegal entry into the state of Texas," Abbott stated.
He further added, "As a result, in two weeks I'll be signing a new law in the state of Texas that will make it illegal for people to enter the state of Texas from another country illegally, and authorizing every peace officer in the state of Texas to arrest those people entering our country."
Senate Bill 4 was approved by Texas lawmakers last month, according to The Texas Tribune. Over the past few years, Governor Abbott has had to devise innovative strategies to counter the surge of illegal immigration at the US-Southern border, which began with the onset of the Biden administration in 2021.
In his conversation with Bartiromo, Abbott highlighted the measures his administration has taken to secure the border, including the installation of razor wires and the construction of a state border wall. These efforts, he claimed, have resulted in Texas no longer being the primary entry point for illegal immigrants.
In 2021, Governor Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, which mobilizes state agencies such as the Texas National Guard and Texas State Troopers to assist in securing the US-Mexico border. With the impending new law, all police officers in Texas will be authorized to participate in these efforts, a privilege currently restricted to government agencies.
Abbott's stringent border control measures have reportedly led to a shift in illegal immigration routes, causing an influx in other Southern border states like Arizona and California. The Tucson, Arizona border sector has experienced a significant surge in illegal immigrants recently, leading to the temporary closure of the port of entry in Lukeville, as reported by the Washington Times.
Data released by Border Patrol last month revealed record-breaking numbers of illegal crossings under the Biden administration. Over the past year, the US-Mexico border has witnessed more than 2 million illegal crossings, with over 6 million encounters since President Biden took office in 2021.
The number of apprehensions of individuals on the terrorist watch list has nearly doubled the previous year's record. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, 172 non-citizens on the terrorist watchlist were apprehended at the border, marking a significant increase from the 98 recorded in 2022. Prior to 2021, the highest number was six in 2018, a figure that has surged since the Biden administration assumed office.
Total encounters for enforcement officials in FY 2023 were 434,562 higher than in 2022, totaling 3,201,144. Since 2020, total encounters have continued to rise, with 646,822 total encounters in 2020, 1,956,519 a year later, and 2,766,582 two years later.
Former President Donald Trump, the 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner, recently warned of a massive caravan of illegal immigrants headed to the United States. In November, Trump, endorsed by Abbott, pledged to prioritize border security if he were to reclaim the White House in 2025.