Texas Immigration Crisis

Texas Dealing With Immigration Crisis

Congress passed a series of provisions designed to encourage cooperation between the federal government and the states in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.


In the mid 50-60s, veteran and retired El Paso police officers acknowledge that El Paso Police officers searched and apprehended illegal aliens to collect twenty-five dollars upon turning them over to local federal immigration authority. EPPD officers felt that the immediate removal action of criminal illegal aliens would reduce local crime and at the same time receive monetary compensation for their efforts, from U.S. Immigration. Such practice stopped in the late 60s because local officers could not arrest someone solely for illegal presence.

El Paso Police Department

By the 70s, the El Paso Police department policy on the apprehension of illegal aliens involved in criminal activity was to be incarcerated into the county detention center and advise the detention officer to place a hold for immigration authorities. Once contact with federal immigration authorities took place, the transfer of illegal alien in custody concluded in a reasonable period.

Years later, the Tenth Circuit issued several opinions on the subject of state and local police arrests of aliens for violations of civil provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) laws. Ruling in the case of United States v. Salina-Calderon, 728 F.2d (10th Cir. 1984), and the U.S. v. Vasquez-Alvarez, 176 F.3d 1294 (10th Cir. 1999), supported state and local officers enforcement of INA laws.


As the Tenth Circuit noted,

“in the months following the enactment of Section 1252c, Congress passed a series of provisions designed to encourage cooperation between the federal government and the states in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

Id. At 1300 (citing 8 U.S.C. 1103a)(9), (c), 1357(g)). Such ruling would seem to affirm the process for El Paso Police department on how illegal aliens were to be legally detained and processed.

Illegal Immigrants
Illegal Immigrants

Local law enforcement arrest of criminal illegal aliens is not preempted; the authority of state and local law enforcement officers to investigate and arrest for violations of federal law is determined by reference to state law. This may be done through express authorization under state law. However, this may not be necessary according to some recent decisions from the Tenth Circuit that appear to suggest that state and local law enforcement officers may possess “inherent authority” within their respective jurisdictions to investigate and make arrests for criminal immigration matters.

The issue of whether state and local law enforcement agencies are precluded from enforcing provisions of the INA was analyzed in the Ninth Circuit case of Gonzalez v. City of Peoria. The Ninth Circuit declared that local police officers may, subject to state law, constitutionally stop or detain individuals when there is reasonable suspicion or, in the case of arrests, probable cause that such persons have violated, or are violating the criminal provisions of the INA. It’s up to the state to enact a law directing local law enforcement to effect apprehension of criminal illegal aliens.


One of the broadest grants of authority for state and local immigration enforcement activity stems from Section 133 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which amended INA Section 287 (g) (8 U.S.C. 1357 (g)), to permit the delegation of certain immigration enforcement functions to state and local officers. The agreement enables specially trained state or local officers to perform specific functions relative to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens, during a predetermined time frame and under federal supervision. This agreement would require cooperation between INA, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

President Barack Obama was correct when he stated to his El Paso, Texas, audience

“…sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”

It requires United States Congress and States to address the issue of the immigration system. Texas has passed a bill to address the 1,650,000 estimated unauthorized immigrant population.


FBI Officials
FBI Officials working together

Governor Greg Abbot signed legislation outlawing sanctuary cities in Texas and granting law enforcement unprecedented powers in tracking down criminal illegal aliens.

Briefly, the SB 4 Bill states,

Texas law enforcement officers may not stop a motor vehicle or conduct a search of a business or residence solely to enforce a federal law relating to immigrants or immigration, unless; upon request by federal agent for assistance; or under the terms of an agreement between the law enforcement agency employing the officer and the federal government under which the agency receives delegated authority to enforce federal law relating to immigrants or immigration.

A Texas officer may arrest an undocumented person only if the officer is acting in enforcing Texas Penal Code violations.

Once the criminal illegal alien is taken into custody, he is transferred and turned over to the county detention center where an immigration detainer is issued and handled by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The detainer is provided to the judge or magistrate authorized to grant or deny the person’s release on bail. SB 4 Bill took effect September 1, 2017.

Some Texans fear that Texas law enforcement may abuse immigrant rights who call it a “show-me-your-papers” law by Democrats and immigrant rights groups. Sen. Charles Perry, the Lubbock Republican who authored the anti-sanctuary legislation, pointed out that police are not required to ask about the immigration status of anyone lawfully in their custody. However, the law still makes it legal for them to do so. It appears that Texas is attempting to comply with the Tenth Circuit ruling by issuing “inherent authority” to Texas law enforcement to encourage cooperation between the federal government and the states in the implementation of federal immigration laws.


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