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Controversial Texas law signed by Gov. Abbott in December regarding immigration went into force this week

In December, Texas Governor Greg Abbot passed a new law, Senate Bill 4, which has sparked a lot of debate because it aims to reduce immigration from the south of Texas. This law mainly does two things: it makes the penalties for smuggling people stricter and lets local police arrest people who are in the U.S. without legal permission and send them back to their home countries.

Civil rights groups tried to challenge this law

Groups that fight for civil rights and the government of the United States have gone to court to try to stop this law, arguing it goes against the Constitution. They say that according to the Constitution and decisions made by the Supreme Court in the past, states aren’t allowed to make their own immigration rules that go against what the federal government has set.

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Starting from 6 February, anyone caught smuggling undocumented people will face at least 10 years in prison. This sentence could increase to 15 years or more for more severe cases. However, if someone is caught transporting certain family members, they might only get a 5-year sentence because of their family relationship. The law in Texas defines smuggling in a way that even simple acts, like driving a relative to the doctor, could lead to a long prison sentence.

Stricter penalties and prison time for those who help migrants

People who hide immigrants in so-called “stash houses” will also get at least five years in prison. Moreover, if someone commits smuggling in an area that’s been declared a disaster, their punishment will be even more severe. The law also increases penalties for crimes related to smuggling victims.

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Unless courts decide to stop it, another part of this law will start on 5 March, giving state and local police the power to arrest undocumented immigrants and those trying to cross the southern border without needing to ask the federal government for permission first.

This law also means tougher penalties for undocumented immigrants caught at the border, with possible prison time ranging from 180 days to five years based on their past crimes. And if an immigrant resists arrest, they could face even harsher penalties, with possible sentences from 2 to 20 years.

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