States copy Texas after Supreme Court permits local police to arrest and deport illegal immigrants

A handful of states have begun to move or attempted unsuccessfully to move their own versions of Texas’s law, S.B. 4, since the Supreme Court temporarily allowed Texas to implement the law last week.

The only successful state in that short period has been Iowa, but others are moving swiftly to send a message that they are not open for business to illegal immigrants crossing the border under President Joe Biden, the opposite of how sanctuary cities including New York City and Chicago initially claimed to be open to assisting before they were inundated by a couple hundred thousand people since 2022.

The Texas law effectively created a state version of a federal immigration law and, in doing so, allows state and local police to enforce the state immigration law.


John Sandweg, the former acting director of ICE during the Obama administration, said the Supreme Court ruling to allow Texas to enforce its law sent a message to other states that it might not strike down similar laws should they be challenged in court.

“This is groundbreaking,” Sandweg said in an interview on NewsNation last week. “The Supreme Court for the first time has recognized — now let me be clear, this is a temporary decision, so mind you, they just lifted an injunction; there’s always the possibility that the circuit court blocks this permanently or the Supreme Court ultimately blocks it but — for the moment Texas has a green light to enforce its own immigration laws. And I have to tell you, I would certainly expect other states to follow suit quickly.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) has indicated she will sign a bill that would allow state and local police to arrest and charge illegal immigrants who have previously been deported from the country or had a record of previously being arrested for attempting to cross the national border illegally.


“States have stepped in to secure the border, preventing illegal migrants from entering our country and protecting our citizens,” Reynolds said. “Americans deserve nothing less. I look forward to signing S.F. 2340 into law.”

Lina Hidalgo, judge for Houston’s Harris County, objected to the idea that a nonborder state has a legitimate need for an immigration law.

“Iowa just passed something,” Hidalgo said in a recent interview on CNN. “[There is] no reason why Iowa needs to be worried about undocumented migrants crossing their border, but it just tells you this is about politics.”

State lawmakers in the Midwest are keen on disincentivizing immigrants released at the border from heading to that region, but so are lawmakers elsewhere.

Missouri lawmakers have four bills moving through the state legislature, including one backed by gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Bill Eigel, which would make it illegal for illegal immigrants to enter the state. “Improper entry” would be punishable by deportation and a $100,000 fine with tougher penalties for repeat offenders.

A Kansas state senator wants to reintroduce S.B. 522, which would make it a crime to enter Kansas as an illegal immigrant.

Up north, New Hampshire’s Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would charge illegal immigrants with trespassing and give law enforcement authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants who are found on private property.


Arizona faces its own unusual situation. Earlier this month, Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) refused to greenlight a bill that would have made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to enter from Mexico. The House is considering two similar bills, as is the Senate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a former 2024 GOP presidential candidate, has not had an identical bill to the Texas law make it to his desk yet but has recently enacted two bills that lengthen sentences for illegal immigrants who are convicted of driving without a license or charged with a felony.

Texas’s S.B. 4 was introduced by Republican state Sen. Charles Perry and Republican state Rep. David Spiller and passed during the state legislature’s fourth special session in 2023.

Despite it possibly putting state and federal law enforcement at an impasse in terms of how both could be carrying out similar enforcement objectives, the head of the Border Patrol union had endorsed the state law.

“Border Patrol agents nationwide, not just in Texas, are grateful for Gov. Abbott’s leadership and willingness to recognize that it is the rule of law that keeps all Americans safe,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said at the bill signing.

The Justice Department sued in early January, delaying its start. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project also sued Texas on behalf of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateway, and El Paso County in Texas. The two lawsuits were merged into one.


The state has targeted the border crisis aggressively since it began in early 2021 when Biden took office and ended Trump administration immigration protocols.

Abbott has deployed 10,000 National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety officers to the border since 2021 to help apprehend immigrants who cross the border illegally and attempt to get away.

Over the past three years, Texas itself has apprehended more than half a million illegal immigrants. Immigrants are turned over to federal Border Patrol agents.

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