The Supreme Court Allows Texas to Police Migrants

Migrants waiting to be processed by CBP on October 19, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In a move that has no precedent since the 1860s, the Supreme Court has decided that Texas is allowed to police the U.S. border with Mexico, essentially giving Texas its own foreign policy.

Texas’s law allows state authorities to arrest and jail people who are suspected of crossing the border illegally. Those who are found not to have left Texas are subject to up to 20 years in prison.

The power to police the border was, up until now, reserved for federal border agents. This puts the law in the hands of Texas’s radical right-wing state government and Texas law enforcement, which is sure to be much more aggressive in harassing immigrants, legal or illegal.

The U.S.-Mexico border is the world’s most dangerous land migration route. Half of the nearly 1,457 deaths of migrants in 2021 happened at the Texas border. The real number of deaths is actually higher, due to lack of data and reporting.

This Supreme Court ruling is certainly worse for migrants, especially the undocumented. They face increased harassment and harsher penalties. However, it is also the case that federal border policy is not much better, with the Biden administration borrowing harsh measures from the Trump-era playbook. Biden has even appealed to the right wing, and Trump, to support his border policy.

This decision shows the power of the unelected Supreme Court, three of whose Justices were appointed by Trump. The U.S. population, and certainly those migrants impacted, had no say in the Justices’ appointment.

The free movement of people should be a right! The world is in turmoil, and economic, political, and environmental crises are driving more people across borders. These crises are largely driven by the policies manufactured in Washington and exported to the world. As the consequences drive people to immigrate, they deserve comfort and support, not the boot heel of the Texas state troopers.