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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: Dear Texas, strict immigration policies aren’t the answer

Keira Lee / Hilltop Views
Texas’ strict anti-immigration bill, Senate Bill 4, challenges the future of migrants and undocumented people in the state. Controversy surrounding the bill going into effect has caused tensions in ongoing court hearings.

Texas currently serves as a battleground regarding the issue of immigration, and tensions have greatly intensified since the passing of the controversial anti-immigration law, Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2023. 

SB 4 legalizes the authority of state and local police to detain and arrest people that are suspected of unauthorized migration into Texas via the Texas-Mexico border. Additionally, the bill grants Texas judges the power to deport migrants if they fail to show valid proof of citizenship or charge them with criminal penalties in cases of noncompliance.

Those accused also face the possibility of being charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders could possibly face a second-degree felony charge and up to a 20-year prison sentence, which I feel is an extremist punishment.

In addition to SB 4, Abbott also proposed “Operation Lone Star” in 2021, which calls for strict, or might I say extreme, military action at the Texas-Mexico border to put a halt on illegal immigration in Texas. Right now, there is a back-and-forth legal battle to officially allow SB 4 to go into effect, which is being challenged by the U.S. Justice Department and immigration advocacy groups. During the week of March 17 major developments were made involving the bill. 

During the evening of March 18, a temporary court order was released that indefinitely blocked the bill from going into effect. This order was then counteracted the following day by a 6-3 ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, granting Texas legal permission for the bill to go into effect. Several hours later, a ruling by the federal appeals court once again blocked the bill from going to effect. The bill is still currently being blocked as it continues being challenged in court.

The bill was approved by six of the Supreme Court justices, all Republican. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who voted against Texas in the Supreme Court ruling, stated that approval of this bill without consideration of the constitutional violations it poses “invites chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement,” and quite frankly, I absolutely agree with her. These policies that were proposed are meant to serve as a solution to the current tensions arising at the border concerning the influx of refugees that have crossed into Texas. However, these policies are not the answers officials should be turning to. Policies such as the ones proposed are not only harmful to undocumented people and asylum seekers in Texas, but it is a violation against the Hispanic and Latino/a community in Texas.

Because SB 4 legalizes the detention and arrest of people simply based upon speculation of being undocumented, this bill essentially enables and legalizes the racial profiling and civil rights violations of Hispanic/Latinx people in Texas. Though the bill states that it only applies to individuals who are “recently” in Texas in a non-legal manner, it still subjects the majority of Hispanic/Latinx Texans to this unjust and volatile treatment, legal citizen or not.

This bill is one of the strictest anti-immigration laws that has ever been passed in the state of Texas, and I am utterly disturbed by its contents and the lack of humanity and compassion that undocumented folks in Texas so desperately need and deserve. Yes, the issue of immigration in Texas is one that does promptly need to be addressed, but it needs to be done so in a proper manner, and continuously issuing strict anti-immigration policies such as SB 4 is not the answer Texas lawmakers should be seeking.

Instead of ordering a strictly militarized border or criminalizing undocumented migrants, lawmakers should shift their focus on ways to help improve the process and system of obtaining legal immigration status and citizenship.

The process of obtaining legal citizenship takes an extraneous amount of time and money, and some migrants cannot afford to wait that long. Coming to Texas illegally wasn’t their first option, but the system makes it seem like their only one. Reforming the immigration system and making the legal citizenship process more accessible to those wishing to migrate to the U.S. will be a better, more humane solution to this crucial issue. 

In the midst of everything going on in the legal battle over this bill, I hope lawmakers realize that migrants and undocumented people need to be treated with respect, protection and dignity and that hostility will not be the solution.

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About the Contributor
Zemira Recio
Zemira Recio, Staff Writer
Zemira is a freshman and this is her first year being a Staff Writer for Hilltop Views. She is a political science major and aspires to become a lawyer someday. When she's not writing or doing schoolwork, her favorite past times are reading and painting.

Comments (1)

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    David RemmyApr 1, 2024 at 1:33 pm

    Well then there are immigration quotas Congress sets those numbers. It can’t be based on sympathy and those kind of issues and you stated it cost a lot of money and time to wait for the current immigration system to accept him well they seem to have enough funds to come from other continents. We have the right to protect our borders, you ought to see what the laws are in Mexico you never hear anything in the press about that anybody can arrest what they consider an illegal immigrant or just a traveler through Mexico of course Mexico’s not doing that they just say go to North America the streets are paved with gold I lived on the border for 30 years with Mexico these are things that I’ve seen all the time.