Is TX right to initiate migrant traffic stops based on 'reasonable suspicion?'
- Governor Greg Abbott announced a new order on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, letting state troopers search and deny any vehicles with migrants, reasoning they would increase the spread of COVID-19. He stated that the law allows troops to “stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion.”
- On Thursday, July 29, 2021, US Attorney General Merrick Garland threatened Governor Abbott to “immediately rescind” the order hindering migrants from the state based on violation of federal law. Democrats believe the order heightens “racial profiling.”
- According to US Customs and Border Protection, the number of migrant apprehensions have been increasing for the last 10 years, and reached a high of 178,416 in June 2021.
- The Texas Tribune reported coronavirus cases on a recent surge as of Thursday, July 29, 2021. Texas hospitals have a combined 5,662 patients with COVID-19, while July 1, 2021 reported 1,591. The state of Texas has seen a total of 3 million coronavirus cases, with 53,440 reported deaths.
The main problem with the executive order signed by Texas Governor Abbott ordering law enforcement to stop vehicles suspected of transporting migrants is that it relies on 'reasonable suspicion,' which is left entirely up to officers in the field. What exactly constitutes 'reasonable suspicion?' Is it a couple of Mexican Americans driving to work early one morning? Is it a Latino family going to a church service on a Wednesday evening? There's simply no way to tell who might be transporting illegal immigrants. This executive order will lead to racial profiling, over policing and sow division between communities in Texas.
Condemnation has rightly come from all across the nation for the executive order. Attorney General Merrick Garland pointed out that the order could interfere with Federal staff transporting migrants, including children, for various legal reasons, potentially leading to more overcrowding in detention centers.
Governor Abbott has claimed the order was put in place due to the pandemic, but the fact is that there is simply no evidence that migrants are bringing COVID-19 with them. This proves this executive order was designed to harass the Latino community living in Texas. This order will clearly not help the pandemic situation in the state but will score points with conservative immigration hawks and other anti-immigrant groups. Governor Abbott should know better than to use the pandemic and fear of viral spread to further his extreme immigration policies. A statement from Sister Norma Pimentel of Catholic Charities summed up the moral imperative to remove this executive order: 'any law or policy that contributes to human suffering is wrong and needs to be corrected.'
We have a crisis at our southern border. Agents have seized 6,494 pounds of fentanyl in the first four months of 2021 versus 4,776 pounds all 2020, enough to kill every American four times over. Methamphetamine seizures have reached 105,032 pounds versus 177,000 pounds in 2020. At this pace, the total will far exceed 300,000 pounds by the end of this year, and these numbers are not inflated due to COVID-19.
With this increase in fentanyl, a drug 50 times more powerful than meth, and 100 times more powerful than morphine, drugs are undeniably part of this crisis. The crisis is also humanitarian. Migrant crossings rose to nearly 190,000 in June, 5x more than 2020, 38% being minors and families. The DHS, under President Trump, had asylum-seekers wait in Mexico until their cases could be heard by US immigration judges. President Biden has suspended this policy, allowing thousands of migrants to enter the country. Traditionally, unaccompanied minors have been allowed to stay in the US, as they are under Biden, but the Trump administration used Title 42 to turn them away due to the pandemic.
Unaccompanied minors have increased 144%, and single adults 231%, with the cost of smuggling someone across the border between $6,000 and $10,000. Many seeking better lives will spend all they have to get to the US, while others will be forced to pay-as-they-go or be forced into human trafficking. The money paid to cartels to smuggle migrants is funding the drug epidemic in American and furthering human trafficking due to weakness at the border. These statistics are reasonable suspicion to stop migrants at the border, and Texas is right to do so.