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New anti-smuggling law won’t deter human traffickers, STC professor says

3 weeks 3 days 11 minutes ago Friday, September 24 2021 Sep 24, 2021 September 24, 2021 5:55 PM September 24, 2021 in News - Local

Gov. Greg Abbott visited McAllen on Wednesday and signed Senate Bill 576 into law. Under the anti-smuggling law, prosecutors will no longer have the burden of proving that a smuggler intended to receive payment for the crime.

Criminal penalties for human smuggling when payment is involved will be enhanced and violators can face a first, second, or third degree felony depending on the circumstance

Jennifer Clark - an associate professor of political science at South Texas College – said she's not convinced the new law signed this week will make a difference.

Stiffer penalties won't deter the crime, she said. Her research shows that increased restrictions and penalties actually helped fund coyotes.

"When we create more restrictive measures, they just put their fee up and then find more dangerous routes,” Clark explained.

Clark said she believes the problem needs to be dealt with directly - by turning fewer people away and letting them claim asylum, which they can by law. 

"What we really need to do is address the root cause, and secondly, have more humane immigration policies,” Clark said. “People are so desperate…they're still going to try to come to the US border."

CBP data shows migrant apprehensions have been on the rise since June from about 60,000 to almost 80,000 in July and August. 

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