AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Mexican government reacted Wednesday to the recent passage of the controversial border security bill that would enable Texas state law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law.
Mexico wrote in a press release that it “categorically rejects” the Lone Star state’s attempt to assume powers currently reserved solely for federal law enforcement.
On Tuesday, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4 — which would make it a state crime for non-citizens to cross into the United States illegally. It’s a power currently only federal law enforcement agents like border patrol have, but the legislation would give any state peace officer the ability to arrest someone who enters Texas illegally or order them to return to the country of origin. The bill requires a formal order from a state judge to force the person to leaved the U.S. and go to Mexico.
In a press release originally in Spanish, the Mexican government said the bill would consequently result in the “separation of families, discrimination, and racial profiling.”
“The Government of Mexico reiterates its rejection of any measure that contemplates the involuntary return of migrants without respect for due process,” the press release said.
“The Government of Mexico recognizes the sovereign right of any country to decide the public policies to be implemented in its territory. However, it respectfully disclaims its legitimate right to protect the rights of its nationals in the United States, as well as to establish its own policies for internment into its territory,” the statement reads.
Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on social media Wednesday that he plans to sign SB 4 into law soon, calling it “historic progress for border security.”
Mexico said it is collaborating with 11 consular representations in Texas to provide civil rights information for Mexican citizens. It did not specify whether Mexico will accept the migrants Texas may deport under SB 4.
It is already illegal for non-citizens to bypass ports of entry when crossing the southern border, under federal law. Violators are subject to deportation.
Questions of SB 4’s constitutionality
Opponents have argued the bill violates the supremacy clause under the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government ultimate authority in enforcing immigration laws, which has been reinforced by a 2012 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. United States. After Arizona passed a similar law to SB 4, the High Court ruled that it is not within state and local police officers’ powers to arrest someone based on their immigration status.
During Tuesday’s debate, the bill’s co-author — Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, defended the legislation that he says is necessary because the federal government is not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal migration at the southern border.
“I believe SB 4 is completely constitutional. It’s not in conflict with the precedent set in Arizona v U.S. It’s not preempted by existing federal immigration law. It’s not in conflict with federal immigration law. And Texas has the constitutional right, authority and ability to protect your borders,” he said.
Only one Republican in both chambers voted against the bill — Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury. Birdwell carried a similar version of this bill during the regular session, but his proposal would have required state officers to turn over the migrants to federal authorities after making an arrest.
“We are setting a terrible precedent for the future by invalidating our obedience and faithfulness to our Constitution,” Birdwell said. “President Biden’s failure to obey his oath does not compel us to violate ours.”
This is a developing story, check back for updates. Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden will have a full report on KXAN at 6.