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Texas Governor Signs Law Allowing Arrest of Suspected Illegal Migrants

The governor of Texas has signed a law allowing state authorities to arrest and deport people suspected of illegally crossing the border between the United States and Mexico.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s endorsement of Senate Bill 4 on Monday set up a potential legal battle with the federal government, which is usually tasked with enforcing immigration laws.

Abbott, who signed the bill in a ceremony in the border town of Brownsville, accused President Joe Biden of doing nothing to stop a “tidal wave of illegal entry” into Texas and claimed the measure would cut unauthorised arrivals by 50-75 percent.

“Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself,” Abbott said, describing the consequences of unauthorised entry under the measure as “so extreme that the people being smuggled by the cartels, they will not want to be coming into the state of Texas”.

Under the new law, Texas state police will be able to arrest anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally and local judges will be authorised to order them to leave the country.

Critics have cast the law as the most extreme attempt by state authorities to regulate immigration since a 2010 Arizona law that was largely struck down by the US Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said on Monday it would challenge the measure in court, arguing it “overrides federal immigration law” and “fuels racial profiling”.

More than 20 congressional Democrats also signed a letter urging the US Justice Department to take legal action to block the measure.

Record numbers of migrants have been picked for unauthorised entry from Mexico since Biden took office in 2021, with more than half of the 5.8 million arrests taking place in Texas and neighbouring New Mexico.

Former President Donald Trump, who Abbot has backed to be the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election, has made immigration a key plank of his bid to retake the White House.

During a visit to Edinburg, Texas near the US-Mexico border last month, Trump claimed that the US had the most unsecure border in the history of the world and that the country was being “invaded”.

On Saturday, Trump said immigrants coming to the US were “poisoning the blood of our country,” drawing a sharp rebuke from the White House.

“Echoing the grotesque rhetoric of fascists and violent white supremacists and threatening to oppress those who disagree with the government are dangerous attacks on the dignity and rights of all Americans, on our democracy, and on public safety,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said.

Source : Al Jazeera