In recent weeks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared several Texas counties along the Mexico border as disaster areas, and he’s also talking about the state building a border wall. At a “border summit” hosted by Abbott, the governor announced that migrants who trespass on private property will be arrested. The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, has said it is considering seeking an injunction against arresting migrants.
Ben Wermund is Washington bureau reporter for the Houston Chronicle. He told Texas Standard that Abbott’s border summit in Del Rio focused on border security. He met with local officials and the chief of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Wermund says Abbott plans to give more details about his proposed border wall next week. So far, it’s unclear how the wall would be funded, or what its exact configuration would be.
The announcement that police and DPS officers would begin arresting border-crossers drew skepticism from immigration experts who say the plan is “a legally tricky prospect at best,” Wermund said.
“Arizona tried to do something very similar,” Wermund said, “and the Supreme Court, in 2012, basically said they didn’t have the authority to do that. Federal officials are to enforce immigration laws.”
Police can arrest migrants if they are believed to have committed a crime, and can then contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, if they believe the person arrested has entered the country illegally.
As part of his disaster declaration last week, Abbott stripped detention centers that are currently holding migrant children of their state operating licenses. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has threatened to sue the state.
“They basically called it an attack on their ability to safely process these kids that are coming across the border, and get them into the homes of sponsors and family members,” Wermund said.