Beginning March 5, 2024, a new Texa law goes into effect (Chapter 51). The new law concerns “Illegal Entry into This State.” The law empowers Texas prosecutors to file charges for immigration based crimes ordinarily prosecuted by Federal authorities. The new law also created 5B.002 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The law permits a Judge to order someone illegally present to leave leave the United States, or face criminal penalties.
Texas SB4 – Illegal Entry (TPC Ch. 51)
The new criminal statues under Chapter 51 of the Texas penal Code concern Illegal Entry from a foreign Nation. A person who is an alien commits an offense if the person enters or attempts to enter this state directly from a foreign nation at any location other than a lawful port of entry. A first offense is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in County jail and up to a $2000 fine; a second offense is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, and a fine not to exceed $4,000.
Texas SB4 – Order to Return to Foreign Nation
The more controversial law that goes into effect March 5, 2024 relates to the authority granted to margistrate Judges to essentially deport individuals by a State law Order. This creates all kinds of issues relating to Federal supremacy, and State level enforcement.
Article 5B of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure will permit magistrate and district judges in Texas to order someone to leave the United States, if they find probable cause that they have violated the newly created statutes prohibiting illegal entry into the State. Even worse, there is no right to appeal these orders. Also, abatement of an enforcement (based on immigration status) is prohibited.
The requirements of the Order for someone to leave the US are: (1) must order the person to be released from custody, (2) may dismiss the underlying charges in lieu of further prosecution or adjudication, (3) require the person to return to the foreign nation from which the person entered or attempted to enter, (4) specify the manner of transportation to a port of entry, and (5) specify the law enforcement officer or state agency responsible for monitoring compliance with the order.
What is notably peculiar is that for the court to legally issue this order under the new laws, the accused person must “agree” to the order.
Problems with the laws seem obvious, they violate the accused’s 14th amendment due process rights, and the right of the Federal Government’s right to regulate immigration.