Texas can keep arresting illegal migrants while Biden challenge proceeds, Abbott says

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday stood by his state’s efforts to control illegal immigration, blaming a Biden administration he says has left the southern border wide open, and promising to continue arresting illegal immigrants.

Abbott addressed the Texas Public Policy Foundation after oral arguments had finished at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case challenging S.B.4 — Texas’ anti-illegal immigration law signed in December which allows police to arrest those suspected of entering the U.S. illegally.

Abbott said that, even with that law on ice, Texas can still arrest those coming into the U.S. illegally.

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“Even without S.B. 4, Texas has the legal authority to arrest people coming across the razor wire barriers on our border, and we will continue to use our arrest authority and arrest people coming across the border illegally,” he said, adding that Texas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) has already arrested more than 40,000 for crossing illegally.

The Biden administration sued over the law in January, which it said crossed into federal authority on matters related to immigration enforcement.

Texas National Guard soldiers wait near a boat ramp on the Rio Grande at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Jan. 26. (Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images)

“[Texas’] efforts, through SB 4, intrude on the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens, frustrate the United States’ immigration operations and proceedings, and interfere with U.S. foreign relations,” the Department of Justice said in its January lawsuit.

But Abbott has argued that the law is necessary because the Biden administration is not doing its job of securing the border. Abbott noted not only S.B. 4, but also moves by Texas to erect a border wall, razor wire and other barriers along its border.

“Number one, we are facing such dangerous situations. And number two, Joe Biden, through his actions, is violating the laws of the United States of America,” he said.

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The Fifth Circuit of Appeals had blocked the law from going into effect. The Supreme Court on Tuesday evening, not ruling on the merits of the case, allowed the law to go into effect and kicked it back to the Fifth Circuit.

Hours later, the Fifth Circuit again put the law on hold, ahead of oral arguments on the merits of the case on Wednesday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that, even with that law on ice, Texas can still arrest those coming into the U.S. illegally. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Abbott described it as “like watching a tennis match” and noted that stay on the law from the Fifth Circuit was still in place.

Texas and the administration have been locked in a number of battles over the border. In January, Texas seized Shelby Park — a key area of Eagle Pass for migrant crossings — and refused to allow federal officials into the area. The two sides have also fought in the courts over the construction of razor wire by Texas and the establishment of buoys in the Rio Grande.

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Abbott on Wednesday said that he had no intention of backing down in the face of the legal challenge. Texas DPS on Wednesday announced that this week it had arrested 17 illegal immigrants for unlawfully entering private property along the Rio Grande, enforcing state law for criminal trespass.

It said the nationals were from Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua and Honduras and were jailed at a state facility.

“We will continue to build those border barriers, keep the buoys in the water, build a Texas border wall, doing everything we can to protect the sovereignty of the state of Texas and the United States of America,” Abbott said.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.

He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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