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Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs ‘Anti-Smuggling’ Law into Effect

© REUTERS / Marco BelloTexas Governor Gregg Abbott shakes hands with a U.S. Soldier after a news conference near the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., where migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. are waiting to be processed, in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., September 21, 2021
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott shakes hands with a U.S. Soldier after a news conference near the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., where migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. are waiting to be processed, in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., September 21, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.09.2021
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed Texas Senate Bill 576, the ‘Anti-Smuggling Bill,’ into law. The legislation is meant to expand prosecutors’ scope and punishment capabilities.
TSB 576 expands on the previous definition of human smuggling while allowing for harsher sentencing for those found guilty. Governor Greg Abbott stated that the law is meant to make the Texas-Mexico border region safer and to dissuade the practice of human smuggling all throughout Texas.
The bill amends Texas’ current penal code in a few distinct ways. The first, and most important, is that it removes the expectation of payment from the definition of smuggling. Before, individuals could only be prosecuted in Texas for smuggling if they transported people with the intent to receive compensation. Eliminating that aspect of the law expands prosecutors’ ability to bring smuggling charges on individuals as finding and then proving that payment was an expectation was difficult.
The bill also upgrades smuggling with the intent to receive compensation from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. In Texas, the conviction of a third degree felony carries between two and ten years of jail, while a second degree felony conviction can lead to up to 20 years in jail.
The bill made smuggling cases where any participant is found to be carrying a firearm a second degree felony offense, as well. The final addition to the law is it makes it a smuggling offense if an individual “assists, guides, or directs two or more individuals to enter or remain on agricultural land without the effective consent of the owner.”
Undocumented immigrants and migrant laborers from Mexico and Central America are incredibly important to the US’s agricultural economy. With the ‘anti-smuggling’ bill now law, Texas agriculture could face labor shortages and lost revenues. However, migrant laborers are known to live in harsh conditions and face exploitation. The bill’s stiffer penalties could lead to improved conditions for migrant workers in the state of Texas.
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