FIRST ON FOX: Legislation introduced Friday by Rep. Andy Biggs would give states the power to pass and enact immigration enforcement laws that match federal laws — to combat what he described as a “historic invasion” of illegal immigrants into the U.S.
The “State Immigration Enforcement Act” would allow states and localities to “enact, implement and enforce criminal penalties that penalize the same conduct that is prohibited in the criminal provisions” of federal immigration laws, as long as they do not exceed federal laws and penalties.
The bill would give congressional authorization for states and local governments to act, which they have so far been stopped from doing due to a 2012 Supreme Court decision. Reps. Bob Good, R-Va., Randy Weber, R-Texas, and Ted Budd, R-N.C., are all co-sponsors on the legislation.
That decision, U.S. v Arizona, limited states’ involvement in immigration enforcement. But with a massive spike in illegal activity at the border, and with what Republicans say is an abrogation of responsibility by the Biden administration, the legislation would authorize state and local governments to step in.
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“Congress must authorize states to act, because the Biden Administration has refused to enforce our nation’s federal immigration laws amid a historic invasion,” Biggs said in a statement. “On day one, the Biden Administration began issuing directives to stop nearly every border security and immigration enforcement tool in order to implement its radical open-borders agenda. The result has led to an unprecedented crisis at our border.”
The Biden administration has blamed “root causes” like poverty, violence and corruption, as well as the Trump administration’s dismantling of legal asylum pathways for the ongoing crisis — which has seen more than 2.1 million migrants encountered this fiscal year alone.
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But Republicans have pointed instead to the administration’s policies, which have seen Trump-era enforcement rolled back — and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities controversially narrowed down to recent border-crossers, national security threats and aggravated felons.
That policy coincided with a sharp drop in arrests and deportations of illegal immigrants and was struck down by a federal judge this summer after a lawsuit filed by Texas and Louisiana.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has touted the administration’s immigration policies as having “fundamentally transformed” enforcement.
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“We have fundamentally changed immigration enforcement in the interior,” Mayorkas declared in an interview in January. “For the first time ever, our policy explicitly states that a non-citizen’s unlawful presence in the United States will not, by itself, be a basis for the initiation of an enforcement action.
With that clash, states have been increasingly taking action by themselves. Multiple officials in Arizona and Texas have urged their governors to declare an “invasion,” which they say would give them greater power to act independently.
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Meanwhile, Texas and Arizona have both been bussing migrants north to “sanctuary” cities while also building their own border walls after the Biden administration largely halted construction.
Republicans have been keen to give more power to the states on immigration matters. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., last month introduced legislation that give power to state prosecutors to pursue violations of federal law and allow states to deport illegal immigrants.