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Learning the history of Texas immigration laws is crucial to understanding its current immigration policy. You get to know the processes and possible challenges of becoming a legal migrant in Texas. With a well-trained immigration attorney in Texas and adequate information about Texas law, your immigration process should be smoother.
Immigration is regulated federally in the U.S. through federal immigration authorities like the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. immigration law is determined by the Immigration and Nationality Act, which Congress passed in 1952. This federal law aims to organize and codify U.S. federal immigration laws within a single body of text for the first time.
However, the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act had many restrictive features, such as the quota-based system, which set national origin as the primary criterion for accepting immigrants. This quota system discriminated against minority ethnicities, especially Asians, and prioritized the immigration of North and West Europeans.
In 1965, an amendment abolished the quota system entirely and replaced it with a new preference system that was not based on people’s country of origin. The amended act eliminated the systemic racism that the previous Act upheld. Instead, the preference system is mostly based on family relationships and, to a lesser degree, on skill level.
The new immigration Act favored non-European and Southern and Eastern European immigrants. It also allowed certain Asian nationalities to migrate to the United States legally for the first time. Studies indicate that the policy significantly increased the diversity of people living in the U.S. by catering to ethnic minorities the most.
Furthermore, the family-based preference system allowed family unification, so people with genuine family relationships with U.S. citizens or green card holders could legally enter the U.S.
One of the campaign promises of the Biden administration was to reverse some of the harsh immigration policies enacted by former president Donald Trump. When Biden assumed office, one of the first things he prioritized was trying to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (M.P.P), which required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico pending the determination of their immigration court proceedings.
This is significant to Texas due to its significant historical ties with Mexico. Illegal immigration from Mexico and border security have always been an issue in Texas since it shares a border with Mexico, and Mexicans form the highest immigrant nationality in the U.S. The M.P.P. increased the deportation of immigrants to the border, leading to much suffering for the migrants.
Biden’s decision to end the M.P.P. was not well received by the states of Texas and Missouri, who took to the Texas District Court to challenge it. Their main argument was the increased burden on the states to cater to the undocumented migrants pending the decision of their immigration proceedings. The case was decided against the federal government, and the policy continued to exist. However, a 2022 decision by the U.S. supreme court has reversed the district court’s ruling and affirmed the authority of the federal government to rescind the M.P.P.
Following this ruling, the Department of Homeland Security has stated that individuals will no longer be enrolled in the program. Also, previously-enrolled individuals would be disenrolled upon entering the U.S. for their next hearing. This effectively put an end to the M.P.P.
President Biden has proposed an immigration bill that would provide a clear pathway for unauthorized immigrants to eventually become lawful permanent residents and citizens. He has also expressed a desire to reverse the damage that the punitive family-separation policy of the Trump administration inflicted. However, he is criticized for not doing enough to stop the practice altogether.
The President derives the power to determine policies concerning immigration from the Immigration and Nationality Act under Title 8 of the U.S. Code. Under section 1182(f) of the Act, the President has the right to suspend the entry of aliens or any class of aliens into the United States whenever the President believes that this will be detrimental to American interests. As a result of this proclamation, the president may suspend the entry of aliens or any class of aliens for such a period as deemed necessary or impose any restrictions on aliens’ entry as deemed necessary.
Trump began building a wall along the U.S. southern border during his administration. However, much to Governor Greg Abbott’s dismay, the Biden administration halted it in support of an open-border immigration policy.
According to Congressman Cole, and Governor Abbott, this halt has led to a historic increase in the rate of illegal border crossing. Governor Abbott claims the policy has created a humanitarian crisis with spikes in drug trafficking, most notably the trafficking of fentanyl, the production of which he blamed mostly on Mexican drug cartels.
However, open border proponents argue that there have been occasional spikes in illegal border crossing without much being done about it. Furthermore, they believe the policy favors poor people who cannot go through rigid and bureaucratic immigration processes.
Despite the perceived leniency in the current federal immigration enforcement, the immigration policy in Texas is unfriendly towards undocumented immigrants. The state’s governor launched a state-funded construction of a wall along the Texas-Mexico border as part of his immigration enforcement measures.
Furthermore, he launched operation Lonestar, a cooperation between the Texas Department of Public Security and the Military Department to address the illegal immigration concerns along the Mexico-Texas border. He has also invoked the invasion clause in Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution, which gives the governor the right to use the military to suppress invasions, effectively classifying the influx of undocumented immigrants as an invasion of the state.
The governor gave an executive order that allowed law enforcement officers and state troopers to escort undocumented immigrants back to the border, which in practice seems like deportation. Several stakeholders have argued that this infringes on the federal government’s powers.
If you are looking to immigrate to Texas or are facing immigration charges, it may be best to consult a lawyer whose practice areas and experience cover this field. An immigration lawyer will defend you and guide you through the immigration process to avoid legal complications.
If you need such competent legal representation and support, contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, today!