Selective SB4 Enforcement? DPS To Arrest Only Witnessed Crossings

El Paso, TX border | Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Texas Department of Safety said it will only be able to arrest adult migrants who are seen unlawfully crossing the Rio Grande if the state’s embattled border security law is allowed to be enforced. 

Lt. Chris Olivarez, spokesperson for the South Region’s DPS, explained that the potential law “was not designed for interior enforcement,” adding that state law enforcement officers will not check immigration status during traffic stops.

“This law is designed for border security along the river,” Olivarez said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Additionally, DPS officers will only arrest adults who are witnessed unlawfully crossing the border; families and children would not be charged with a crime and instead be handed over to Border Patrol agents.

The DPS plans are in relation to the potential enforcement of Texas Senate Bill 4, which would make unlawful entry into the state a crime and allow state law enforcement officers to arrest those who are suspected of violating the law.

Although the bill was initially set to become law on March 5, a conjoined lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union has prevented the state from enforcing it until a court can determine whether it is unconstitutional, as previously reported by The Dallas Express

The two sides claim that the law should be blocked since the federal government is supposed to have sole control over immigration law in the country.

A Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel initially placed an administrative stay on the case to allow Texas to begin enforcing the law; however, another panel from the court removed the stay until a decision was reached in the lawsuit.

This Fifth Circuit panel heard oral arguments in the case shortly after removing the administrative stay, with the judges seemingly split on whether the state should be allowed to enforce the law.

The court did not indicate when a ruling would be presented in the case, but Mexico has already stated that it will not accept deportations from Texas if the court rules in favor of the state.

A news release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Government of Mexico stated that “Mexico will not accept, under any circumstances, repatriations by the State of Texas,” as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The release further noted that enforcing the law and accepting the deportation means the country would be “encouraging the separation of families, discrimination and racial profiling that violate the human rights of the migrant community.”

Despite SB4 currently being unenforceable and the backlash from Mexico, Gov. Greg Abbott said during the Texas Policy Summit that “Texas has the legal authority to arrest people coming across the razor wire barrier on our border.”

“We will continue to use our arrest authority and arrest people coming across the border illegally,” he added, as reported by KVUE ABC.

The passage of SB4 was one of many steps the Lone Star State took to manage the crisis along the southern border. The number of unlawful crossings has skyrocketed since President Joe Biden took office in 2021.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently released data on the number of encounters the agency had with unlawful migrants along the southern border in February. The agency reported 189,922 encounters.

Griff Jenkins, a Fox News correspondent, posted on social media and added context to the high number of reported encounters, stating that it was the most ever reported for February.

Since Biden took office in 2021, CBP has reported more than 7.7 million encounters with unlawful migrants along the southern border.

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