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Press Release // Immigration and Asylum

Gov. Abbott to Sign Harmful New Texas Immigration Laws

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Global Refuge Staff

December 18, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 18, 2023

Contact: Tim Young | timothy.young@globalrefuge.org

Washington, D.C. – Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign S.B. 4 today, a bill that creates a new crime of illegal entry into Texas from a foreign nation, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. The law also codifies new crimes of illegal re-entry, punishable by one to twenty years in jail, and refusal to comply with a judge’s order to return, considered a second-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to twenty years.

Governor Abbott is also expected to sign S.B. 3, which provides $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds for border-related operations, including border wall construction, additional razor wire, and floating barriers in the Rio Grande.

Advocates have voiced strong concerns that S.B. 4 is poised to lead to racial profiling, wrongful arrests of both migrants and U.S. citizens, and mistrust of law enforcement among immigrant victims of crime. Additionally, a coalition of 30 former federal immigration judges who were appointed by and served under both Republican and Democratic administrations have denounced the legislation as a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws, and due process. For its part, the Mexican government has said it “categorically rejects” Texas’ proposal to arrest and deport immigrants to Mexico.

In response to the new Texas immigration laws, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President & CEO of Global Refuge, which assists refugees and asylum seekers in San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth, among other Texan communities, said:

“These measures not only threaten the safety and dignity of asylum seekers, but also risk undermining the foundational principles of our legal system. Immigration is clearly a federal authority, and this legislation knowingly dances on the edge of constitutional cliffs at the expense of vulnerable children and families. By criminalizing the very act of seeking refuge, Texas is turning its back on the values of compassion and due process that make our nation the world’s beacon of humanitarian leadership.”

“S.B. 4 represents a recipe for racial profiling, making ethnicity a shortcut to suspicion. These new measures will not rebuild trust among immigrant communities that have long grappled with the specter of detention and deportation. To the contrary, they are poised to create a chilling effect, deterring immigrants from seeking necessary assistance or cooperating with law enforcement, and jeopardizing the safety and cohesion of Texan communities as a whole.”

“We call upon the federal government to intervene and ensure that these deeply harmful and unconstitutional policies are reversed. We stand in solidarity with those affected by these laws, and we remain committed to welcoming people with compassion and advocating for a humane and just immigration system.”

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