Civil Rights Groups File for Preliminary Injunction to Block Controversial Texas Immigrant Law from Taking Effect

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By Julie McCaffrey

AUSTIN, TX — Three civil rights groups—the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the national ACLU, and the Texas Civil Rights Project—filed a preliminary injunction against a Texas Senate immigration enforcement bill late last week, according to a press release by the ACLU.

The bill, named Senate Bill 4, would have been effective March 5. SB 4 would “permit local and state law enforcement to arrest and detain people they suspect to have entered Texas from another country without federal authorization,” writes the ACLU of Texas.

The ACLU continues, “It would also authorize Texas judges — who are not trained in immigration law and have no proper authority to enforce it — to order a person’s deportation without due process and before they have an opportunity to seek humanitarian protection.”

According to a press release provided by the U.S. Justice Department, the Texas measure runs counter to former federal rulings.

In Arizona v. United States, the courts confirmed federal law takes precedence over state law in immigration policies. If enacted, SB 4 would obstruct the federal government’s ability to oversee the flow of immigration.

“This law will rupture Texas communities,” said Adriana Piñon, legal director at the ACLU of Texas.

Piñon added, “It will strip people of their rights under federal law with devastating consequences: Families may be separated, more people may live in fear of law enforcement, and migrants may have a harder time fully integrating into our communities. This plainly unconstitutional law should never have been passed, so now we are seeking to stop its enforcement while the litigation unfolds.”

The director of the Beyond Borders Program at TCRP, Tami Goodlette, echoed Piñon’s sentiments, noting, “This law has already sowed confusion and fear into communities across the state, and it must be stopped before it has the ability to tear them apart.

“S.B. 4 threatens to destroy the foundation of our nation’s immigration system and subjects people to a separate, de facto system that has the sole purpose of targeting migrants and separating communities. People are not political pawns that can be used in Texas’ attempt to gain power over federal immigration authority.”

SB 4 has received swift backlash from civil rights groups and individuals alike, but also from the federal government.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas in early January to challenge the constitutionality of SB 4, stating, “The Constitution assigns the federal government the authority to regulate immigration and manage our international borders.”

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said, “SB 4 is clearly unconstitutional. Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and long standing Supreme Court precedent, states cannot adopt immigration laws that interfere with the framework enacted by Congress. The Justice Department will continue to fulfill its responsibility to uphold the Constitution and enforce federal law.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, concurred with Gupta.

Gupta argued, “Texas cannot disregard the United States Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent. We have brought this action to ensure that Texas adheres to the framework adopted by Congress and the Constitution for regulation of immigration.”

The suit was filed on behalf of the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.

Gov. Greg Abbot responded to the suit on X, formally Twitter, writing, “The Biden Admin. not only refuses to enforce current U.S. immigration laws, they now want to stop Texas from enforcing laws against illegal immigration. I’ve never seen such hostility to the rule of law in America. Biden is destroying America. Texas is trying to save it.”

About The Author

Julie is a third year at UC Davis majoring in Communications and Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. She hopes to advocate for women's reproductive rights and make the justice system fairer for sexual assault survivors.

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7 Comments

  1. Walter Shwe

    Texas is tearing up the Constitution and obviously disregarding SCOTUS rulings. They must be stopped by all legal avenues available.

    To add insult to injury Republicans have repeatedly blocked bipartisan immigration reform purely to serve as a political wedge issue.

    The Number of Times Republicans Blocked Pro-Immigrant Bills Since Tanking 2013’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Package

    https://americasvoice.org/blog/the-number-of-times-republicans-blocked-pro-immigrant-bills-since-tanking-2013s-comprehensive-immigration-reform-package/

    Texas border Republican accuses GOP of using immigration crisis for politics

    U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales said in an email interview with the Washington Examiner that his fellow Republicans benefit politically from a sustained border crisis. The attack indirectly alluded to U.S. Rep. Chip Roy’s contentious border security bill.

    https://www.texastribune.org/2023/02/17/tony-gonzales-chip-roy-border/

  2. Walter Shwe

    This is the truth about who has been ‘more effective’ regarding expelling illegal immigration Keith. BTW the Cato Institute is regarded as libertarian and one of its founders is well known Republican donor Charles Koch.

    New Data Show Migrants Were More Likely to Be Released by Trump Than Biden

    According to new data published last month, the Biden Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has removed a higher percentage of arrested border crossers in its first two years than the Trump DHS did over its last two years. Moreover, migrants were more likely to be released after a border arrest under President Trump than under President Biden.

    https://www.cato.org/blog/new-data-show-migrants-were-more-likely-be-released-trump-biden

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