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States follow Texas on immigration bill

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-22 09:56

Migrants stand in front of a fence while members of the Texas National Guard keep watch, after a group of migrants forced their way into the US by breaking through razor wire and a fence, as SB 4 law that would empower law enforcement authorities in the state to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the US-Mexico border was temporarily blocked, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 21, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

While Texas SB4 — a law that makes illegal border crossing a state crime and allows local law enforcement to arrest and local courts to deport migrants — is still waiting for its fate in the court system, other states, primarily Republican, are following Texas’ example, passing or in the processing of passing similar laws aimed at migrants at the state level.

SB4 has gone through a roller coaster of rulings since February, when a federal judge in Austin first blocked it, based on the US Constitution.

The decision was overturned, and the law was allowed to take effect by a federal appeals court. Then, the Supreme Court blocked it at first but on Tuesday allowed the law to remain in place while the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considered its legality.

The decision was overturned, and the law was allowed to take effect by a federal appeals court. The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the law to remain in place while the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considered its legality.

The appeals court blocked the law again hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, while deliberating on its merits. The appeals court has yet to issue a ruling.

Other states have started to follow Texas. On Tuesday, Iowa passed Senate File 2430 — that would make illegal reentry into the US a state crime and allow state law enforcement to arrest, and local courts to deport undocumented immigrants.

State law enforcement would be able to escort deportees to border entry to ensure they leave the country.

Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said she will sign it into law.

“President Biden and his administration have failed to enforce our immigration laws and, in doing so, have compromised the sovereignty of our nation and the safety of its people,” Reynolds said in a statement Tuesday.

“States have stepped in to secure the border, preventing illegal migrants from entering our country and protecting our citizens. Americans deserve nothing less. I look forward to signing SF 2340 into law,” Reynolds said.

A few other state legislatures are still going through the process. In Missouri, SB 1372 would make illegal entry into the US a state crime subject to imprisonment of one to seven years, a $10,000 fine and deportation. The bill would also prohibit undocumented immigrants from enrolling in any post-secondary educational institution or receiving any state or local public benefits.

In Oklahoma, House Bill 4090 would deport anyone “found to be unlawfully present” in the state and punish those who are “unlawfully present” and have violated a criminal law of Iowa with imprisonment of at least 10 years.

In Georgia, following the killing of a young woman by a migrant, a bill similar to Texas SB4 was proposed. It would require law enforcement to check immigration status during encounters; check and report undocumented immigrants at the time of detaining; and identify those among the imprisoned population who have entered the country illegally.

Earlier this year, Arizona passed a similar bill, but it was vetoed by its governor.

Texas has been setting legislative trends in bills relating to foreigners. Last year, it was the first state to propose but failed to pass bills limiting real property ownership of Chinese and foreign nationals from a few other nations. However, a similar bill was passed in Florida.

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