Authorities, immigration law professor weighs in on Abbott's anti-smuggling law
For months, the Texas Department of Public Safety has been chasing down vehicles along South Texas highways as part of Operation Lone Star’s crackdown on human smuggling.
Now there's a new law in the books that looks to charge someone with a felony if they smuggle migrants in their car.
Under Senate Bill 576, it would be a felony if a person knowingly hides another person in their vehicle in order to avoid authorities. It is also a felony if the person being smuggled is seriously hurt or dies while being smuggled. The law took effect on Sept. 1.
"Human trafficking is a horrific crime that preys upon especially women and children. And what happens to those women and children who are trafficked is unspeakable,” Abbott said during his signing in McAllen on Wednesday.
Some experts in immigration law say that while this new law makes certain ways of smuggling people a serious crime, it’s another way for Gov. Abbott to control immigration to Texas, which is a federal issue.
"It very much insists on this security threat lens to immigration at the border, which as I've mentioned, really isn't really appropriate for the types of individuals you're seeing - families, asylum seekers,” said Denise Gilman, an immigration law professor at UT Austin.