Texas authorities have jailed thousands of immigrants through an “arrest and jail” operation aimed at deterring illegal immigration along the state’s southern border.
Roughly 10,000 immigrants have been jailed on misdemeanor trespassing charges under state laws put into place in 2021, according to the Associated Press. The state plans to expand its law enforcement operations to combat the immigration crisis in March through legislation passed earlier this month.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation in 2021 that allowed Texas law enforcement to arrest and hold immigrants who entered the country illegally on trespassing charges. The new rules aimed to curb the immigration crisis that has erupted at the U.S. southern border under President Joe Biden.
Abbott signed legislation on December 18 that would make entering the U.S. illegally a state violation, which would empower Texas authorities to arrest illegal immigrants anywhere in the state. The legislation is set to take effect in March, though the Biden administration threatened Texas on Thursday with a lawsuit if the state enforces the law.
“Because SB 4 is unconstitutional and will disrupt the federal government’s operations, we request that Texas forbear in its enforcement,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton told Abbott in a letter, according to CBS News.
The effect Abbott’s efforts have had on the crisis are, at best, unclear, however, if they have had any effect at all. In November, nearly a quarter of a million law enforcement encounters with immigrants are the southern border were reported, a record for the month. Altogether, the U.S. tallied over 300,000 law enforcement encounters with immigrants.
The record numbers were released just ahead of the holiday weekend, which GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said was by design to limit the visibility of the crisis at the southern border.
“By strategically holding the release of these numbers until the Friday before Christmas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is unabashedly showing the full measure of his duplicity,” Green said. “These numbers are so bad, he wants as few Americans to see them as possible.”
News of the new record comes as another migrant surge is building at the border with a caravan of an about 8,000 people from an estimated 24 countries is working its way to the U.S. southern border. One of the caravan’s organizers has said the caravan could nearly double in size before it arrives at the U.S. border to roughly 15,000 people.