Image depicting a wall up as border protection/blockage via Canva
Image depicting a wall up as border protection/blockage via Canva

Butting heads on a bill

Texas border crisis: immigration, border control and Senate Bill 4
Editor’s note

Editorial opinions expressed are solely those of the writers.

The viewpoints expressed reflect only the writers’ views and are not to represent the views of McIntosh High School administrators or officials, of McIntosh High School, Fayette County Schools or the FCBOE school board.  

Supporting Texas

“President Biden’s reckless open border policies have created an ongoing crisis at our southern border as record levels of illegal immigrants and deadly drugs pour into Texas,” according to The Office of the Texas Governor.

The argument is that a lot of case law from federal courts and supreme courts support the federal government having power and authority, even if it’s not constitutional. The tenth Amendment says that any power not specifically enumerated in the constitution falls to the states. That’s the tenth amendment – states rights. 

Immigration is not spelled out in the Constitution. That does not exist. There is a supreme court case that came out and the court ruled that there is a section about how a sovereign nation or government needs to do things but immigration is not spelled out in the Constitution. It isn’t there. “The Constitution does not mention immigration,” according to the Constitution Annotated.

Immigration is a very contentious subject right now in our country and it is polarizing pushing people from different political parties farther apart then they already are.”

The court decided nations need to be able to regulate their immigration so that is a federal power. However, that is a court ruling, not something in the Constitution. The Constitution is pretty clear that if it isn’t in the Constitution then it’s a state right. Typically federal courts rule in favor of the federal government because governments like to grow. Governments grow, they get bigger and bigger and accumulate more power. That is what every government has done in history. So, this isn’t a surprise. 

Governor Gregory Abbott swore an oath to obey the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Texas. He did not swear an oath to obey the federal courts. Who does he report to? He reports to the citizens of Texas. 

If the federal government is being negligent of it’s duty as written in the Constitution, ignoring laws and it is allowing its states to become overrun and overburdened, then is Abbott supposed to just sit on his hands because the court rules he can’t do anything about his state being torn apart? Of course not. 

Of course not because he doesn’t swear to the president, he swears to his citizens and his job is to take care of his state. The fact that the federal government is not enforcing laws and it is landing on his state, he has an obligation to the state – his people – to protect them and their land. He is obligated to enforce their laws. 

The federal government doesn’t get to pick and choose. They can’t say “we are going to be in charge of immigration but we aren’t going to do anything about it” because this is causing the border states to fall apart. Abbott has to do what he is doing, it is the only moral decision. When faced with a court ruling saying he has to let them in, yes he is absolutely pushing up against a federal court ruling. 

Now legally, is he in the right? Probably not but morally, he isn’t in the wrong here. This is the moral thing to do because he is obligated to protect Texas, the people of Texas. His job is to protect Texas, it is what he got voted in to do. He is doing what he has to to enforce the immigration laws of the United States. He is doing it for the administration.

Now he isn’t supposed to be in violation of federal courts because there is a supremacy clause that says the feds have supremacy over certain things but again, immigration is one of those things that is not specifically in the Constitution. 

Look, I’m all about being a nation of laws. It is hard to make the argument that the federal government can’t pick and choose their laws but if they make laws, they need to enforce it. Immigration laws are there so they need to enforce them. I believe the Biden administration is being both grossly negligent as well as naive in promoting an open border. Their decision to allow illegal immigrants to pass smoothly into the United States has serious consequences both economically and legally as well as creating massive security concerns. 

Some security concerns lie in how we can’t control the criminal backgrounds of the people entering illegally. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website, there have been 4,247 arrests of “noncitizens” so far in the fiscal year of 2024. The Fiscal Year 2024 runs “October 1, 2023 – September 30, 2024” and it was last modified Jan. 26, 2024 (as of Feb. 7, 2024). That is roughly a little more than 850 arrests per month so far and the most charges are in the categories of “Illegal Entry, Re-Entry,” “Driving Under the Influence” and “Illegal Drug Possession, Trafficking.” 

Illegal immigrants coming in is dangerous for our legal citizens because we don’t know who is coming in. There are rapists, drug carriers, weapon holders and murderers entering without our knowledge. Now of course there are others coming in who aren’t criminals, who don’t commit crimes. But we can’t know who is who and we have to keep our legal citizens safe. 

Border states are in a very unique situation because they are literally one sovereign nation up against another sovereign nation. I would say Abbott can do whatever he wants, create whatever laws until the Supreme Court actually weighs in and rules but even then, he has a moral obligation to do what he needs to do for his state’s wellbeing. 

Part of the problem is there are people in Washington, D.C. in positions of power to whom the border is just a nuisance, and I think some of them believe that illegal immigration is a moral good. It is not. It undermines legal immigration.”

— John Kennedy

You can argue that “well, you need to obey the law,” but well, the Biden administration isn’t obeying our current laws on immigration. If they were enforcing immigration laws properly, Abbott wouldn’t have needed to sign the law he did. In Nov. of 2023, Abbott signed and passed Senate Bill 4, the strongest border security bill passed in Texas. Some claim this bill is aggressive, unjust or even immoral but what do they expect him to do?

He has to act, he has to because his state is coming apart. For him to act, he had to get that law passed which gives him permission to initiate action. The governor is not a dictator. The governor follows laws, just like the president is supposed to follow laws. Passing that law gives him the right because it is now a Texas law, to take action. 

He sees a problem and the federal government isn’t doing anything about it. He can’t just say “we are going to do this” so he had to pass the bill to make it legal for him to make it a state crime for illegal immigrants to come through the border. Key word being illegal.

You have to think about what Abbott is facing, is he going to let his state be destroyed just to match up with a federal court ruling. It isn’t moral and from a legal standpoint, that’s for lawyers to decide. That is for courts to get involved and sue each other. 

He can’t just lay down and do nothing. He has to do something to protect his people and it starts with the fact that the federal government is not enforcing immigration law. It doesn’t matter what the courts said, he has the moral high ground. If the Biden administration wants to make immigration different then they need to get Congress to pass different laws and then they would be following the law. At that point, I would be on the government’s side. If they were following their laws, then I would agree that Abbott overstepped. But that isn’t reality. 

I’m not against legal immigration. 

All Americans are a few generations from being immigrants themselves. Most of my family came at different points over the last 150 years through Ellis Island. We came from Prussia and we came from Italy.

Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Immigration is a very contentious subject right now in our country and it is polarizing pushing people from different political parties farther apart then they already are. The current administration allowing the flow of immigrants in violation of our laws takes a brick out of the wall of democracy. It might seem like only a single brick but each disregard for our laws further threatens our country. 

The issue in Texas comes down to morals. The Biden administration is illegally letting people flow over the border so Abbott’s decision is backing up what is federal law. So technically he is going against the supremacy clause because he isn’t supposed to be making immigration laws but he is only doing that because they are not being enforced on the federal levels. This comes down to morals, the moral decision. 

People can’t just walk freely across the border. Immigrants aren’t being stopped at the border like they should be which is wrong. Instead, we are letting everyone come in. They get food, housing, medical care and they are a massive drain on the system. 

Cities are getting overwhelmed by the illegal immigrants. In New York, students were sent home for a week, they missed a week of school because the city filled the gymnasium and school with illegal immigrants. 

People are arguing that everyone should get let in. Most empires have fallen because of migration like the Roman Empire for one example. We just don’t have enough to afford the illegal people entering. We, as a nation, are 46 trillion dollars in debt which is growing every second and we have plenty of internal problems already. We don’t have the money for these people.

I don’t fault the people wanting to come here, I would want to come here. My family came here, it is nothing against the people. 

However, that doesn’t mean that everyone can come in. We can’t afford it. 

Opposing Texas

Texas’s actions go against the ideals and system that America was founded on, hypocritically claiming American patriotism that is contradicted by their attitude towards the United States federal government, that has been prevalent in their history. 

In Nov. of 2023, Texas Governor Gregory Abbott passed and signed Senate Bill 4, an aggressive immigration bill, claiming the federal government and specifically the Biden administration had not been enforcing current immigration law on the Texas border. 

The new bill would allow Texas itself to enforce immigration law, and  according to the Texas Tribune, “would make it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry. The new crime is a Class B misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders could face a second-degree felony with a punishment of two to 20 years in prison.”

On Jan. 3,  the United States Justice Department filed an official complaint against Texas, correctly claiming the bill is unconstitutional. 

According to the press release by the department, “The Constitution assigns the federal government the authority to regulate immigration and manage our international borders.”

This precedent has been set in previous immigration cases, where it was decided that since border control is related and tied to commerce, control is given to the federal government under the Commerce Clause in the U.S Constitution. Texas’s blatant challenge to federal authority is reprehensible and a dangerous precedent for the balance of power between states and the federal government.

Aside from its lack of constitutional basis, the bill is also rooted on the false basis of fear-mongering and xenophobia, supported by comments from the Texas Governor. 

According to the New York Times, “Abbott described the arrival of migrants as an “invasion” that permitted Texas, under the U.S. Constitution, to take on the job of enforcing immigration laws, an area that the Supreme Court has in the past left to the federal government.”

A common sentiment is that immigrants who come into the United States illegally are reaping the benefits that come with U.S citizenship, without contributing to the cost. However, this is typically the opposite. 

According to the Associated Press, “While immigrants in the country without authorization do not have Social Security numbers, they can file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN.”

In fact, immigrants contribute an extensive amount in taxes as well as social security. 

Aside from its lack of constitutional basis, the bill is also rooted on the false basis of fear-mongering and xenophobia, supported by comments from the Texas Governor.

According to research by AP News, “The Social Security Administration estimated in 2010, for example, that such immigrants contribute $12 billion per year more to the Social Security system than they take out.”

Their lack of authorization, however, does keep them from being able to have access to programs American citizens have.

Michael Clemens, a professor of economics at George Mason University, said, “Of course unauthorized immigrants are expected to pay their mortgage or rent just like anyone else, [but] they are excluded from federally funded Section 8 rental vouchers and public housing.”

At the same time, immigration is a huge part of the American economy, especially Texas. 

According to Forbes, “Mexican immigration to the United States encourages increased trade and investment, enhancing prosperity in both countries, according to new research.”

Most immigrants are of working age, and looking for work, having left a country with lower economic opportunities. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, “Employers may count on in-migrants to help fill jobs for which Texans are in relatively short supply…The state economy depends on these predominantly young people to contribute to growth, now and in the future, in a diverse set of industries and occupations.”

Instead of implementing harsher border control methods, allowing immigrants who want to work and will be productive citizens of the U.S to become those citizens will only have benefits. 

Forbes quotes that “Expanded temporary worker programs, properly constructed, will aid economic growth and enhance border control efforts and national security,” according to Senate testimony delivered in March 2015 by Randel K. Johnson on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

While proponents of harsher immigration restrictions may claim that their only qualm is with those who come into the U.S illegally, and not through the proper authorization, the truth is that becoming a U.S citizen is often incredibly difficult for those immigrants. 

According to Forbes, [Gaining citizenship] is hard because of the long processing times, the financial and personal costs involved, and the fact that most immigrants do not have a direct relative that is a citizen of the United States. The requirements of U.S. citizenship are also complex and may not be understandable to some immigrants.”

So, if the issue is simply legality, it should stand to reason that the goal should be making immigration and gaining authorization easier, not harder and with higher threats of jail or prison time for a group of people in which the majority are seeking what anyone wants, a better life. 

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