If enforced, Texas’ new immigration law would be a game-changer

News & Politics

If blue states can defy and subvert federal immigration law — and they do — why shouldn’t red states be allowed to enforce it?

A new House Homeland Security Committee report found that Joe Biden’s southern border invasion is costing taxpayers $451 billion, a burden shouldered mainly by states and local communities. With the federal government ignoring immigration law, it is the right and responsibility of red states to defend their own people.

To that end, after several years of dawdling, the Texas legislature last week finally passed SB 4, which empowers state and local law enforcement to arrest illegal aliens for their illegal entry into the state. Given that the effects of the invasion plague every major city, the Texas bill needs to be the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way states address the crisis.

SB 4 also grants state judges authority to return illegal aliens to Mexico. In some instances, however, the crime of entering the state illegally would be punishable by up to six months in jail for first-time offenders and two years for a second offense. The bill passed the Texas House 83-61 along party lines and the Senate 17-11, with one Republican voting with the Democrats.

What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas

The lone dissenting Republican senator was Brian Birdwell, a co-author of an earlier, watered-down version of SB 4. He claimed Texas was setting a “terrible precedent” by “invalidating our obedience and faithfulness to our Constitution” — which specifies that “all power and responsibility for immigration is delegated to the federal government.”

Funny enough, I can’t find a provision in the Constitution that says anything close to that. Naturalization is an enumerated power of Congress under Article I, Section 8. But immigration — especially the power to block a flood of would-be squatters crossing the border — was regulated by the states for the first 100 years or so of our nation’s history.

We need to set up a direct challenge to Plyler v. Doe, much as red states did with Roe v. Wade.

At the same time, both houses passed SB 3, which would provide $1.5 billion for the maintenance, operation, and construction of border barrier infrastructure, including about 100 miles of border wall.

Also, in response to my friend Todd Bensman’s phenomenal reporting about the massive illegal alien community of Colony Ridge just east of Houston, SB 3 provides $40 million for the Texas Department of Public Safety to police this growing violent area. Apparently, the cartels have been operating in Colony Ridge with impunity. The community drew public attention when a Honduran illegal alien murdered five people earlier this year.

SB 4 is the bill that every state needs to pass, not just the border states. What comes to the border doesn’t remain at the border. It migrates to our cities, well beyond the Rio Grande.

And the cost to Texans is massive. According to a report from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, illegal aliens cost the state $152 million for housing, between $62 million and $90 million in Medicaid expenditures, and somewhere between $579 million and $717 million for uncompensated hospital care.

Yet Texas is not unique. Every state bears the burden of illegal aliens, from the crimes they commit to the public services they consume. It’s simply a fact. A Federation for American Immigration Reform study found that illegal immigration cost U.S. taxpayers at least $182 billion this year alone, with states picking up nearly two-thirds of the tab.

A legal war worth waging

Obviously, the left will fight SB 4 in court, and the ACLU is already preparing a lawsuit. But now is the time to set up a direct challenge to U.S. v. Arizona, the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that barred states from enforcing immigration law.

We need every red state to follow the Lone Star State’s lead but with one major addition: removing the lure of “free” public education, which is crushing many local communities. In some school districts, 30%-40% of the student body are foreign-born and in the United States illegally. In places like Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City, the percentage is much higher.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1982 struck down a Texas law that “prohibited the use of state funds for the education of children who had not been legally admitted to the U.S.” That case, Plyler v. Doe, has done enormous damage in the intervening 40 years. We need to set up a direct challenge to Plyler much as red states did with Roe v. Wade.

As we debate whether red states can enforce federal immigration laws, blue states continue to flout federal law enforcement. Last month, police in Fairfax County, Virginia, briefly detained a Honduran national on rape and kidnapping charges. Border Patrol had caught and released the same man two years ago. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked Fairfax to keep the man in custody, but the Fairfax County jail did not honor the detainer and released an accused illegal alien rapist back onto the streets.

If blue states can release rapists, why can’t red states arrest and deport them? At a minimum, it is their right to deny all public services to trespassers. SB 4 is a great start and potential model for the nation to address and reverse the crisis of 8 million illegal aliens who have entered the United States during Joe Biden’s disastrous tenure.

The critical element, of course, is how eagerly Texas Governor Greg Abbott will enforce the law. We’ll see.

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