Ask and you shall receive.
After effectively being goaded into a legal fight, the Biden administration is suing Texas over the state’s new anti-immigration law, known as Senate Bill 4 or S.B. 4. The law, which is set to take effect in March, allows state law enforcement officers to arrest and deport people suspected of being in the United States illegally, which the Justice Department says effectively usurps federal authority over immigration.
According to the suit, filed Wednesday, Texas’ actions through S.B. 4 “intrude on the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens, frustrate the United States’ immigration operations and proceedings, and interfere with U.S. foreign relations.
In late December, the Justice Department sent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a letter warning that it would file a lawsuit against his state unless it reneged on the law. As I recently wrote, S.B. 4 mirrors S.B. 1070, the Arizona law that subjected many people to racial profiling and was ultimately found largely unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012.
Several state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union have issued travel advisories in response to the Texas law, warning of the legal troubles that people could encounter in the state.
In response to the federal lawsuit, an Abbott spokesperson said Texas is “prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” accusing the Biden administration of “deliberate” endangerment with its “open border policies.”
Nonetheless, Texas Republicans could be seeking to have the Supreme Court consider S.B. 4 — despite its ruling against the similar Arizona law — now that the court is packed with conservative justices appointed by Donald Trump.
On that note: Abbott says he likes his chances in the courtroom.
S.B. 4 is a culmination of the Texas GOP’s push for state officials to get more hostile with— or, to quote Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, “put hands on” — migrants seeking refuge in Texas. And state officials have sought to justify their efforts by claiming that migrant arrivals constitute an “invasion.”
S.B. 4 is also an extension of Abbott’s beleaguered Operation Lone Star, an immigration crackdown that has faced widespread criticism for its inhumane tactics and for subjecting Texas National Guard members to poor pay and working conditions.
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