Civil rights organizations in Texas and El Paso County sued the Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday, challenging a new law that would empower state and local law enforcement to detain and deport immigrants who enter or reside in the country illegally.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Austin, came less than 24 hours after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed it in a ceremony at the U.S. border in Brownsville.
SB4 makes illegal crossing from Mexico into Texas a misdemeanor. Imprisonment of up to six months can be imposed in this case. The Act will come into effect from March.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), its Texas affiliate and the Texas Civil Rights Project, on behalf of El Paso County and two immigrant aid groups, argue that the new law is unconstitutional and invalidated by federal law.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McGraw and 34th Judicial District Attorney Bill Hicks, who are listed as defendants, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“The bill ignores basic constitutional principles and violates federal immigration law, while harming Texans, especially brown and black communities,” the agency’s legal director, Adriana Binone, said in a statement. ACLU of Texas.
Abbott signed SB4 into law this Monday, which imposes prison sentences for illegal entry and re-entry into the state and allows for the arrest of anyone suspected of crossing the border at unauthorized locations.
SB4 allows local and state police to arrest and charge anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally.
The judge in the case may order deportation to Mexico or the arrest of the accused, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
What’s the problem if SB4 only reflects federal law?
Management of the immigration system is constitutionally vested in the federal government, so the states have no powers in that area.
Immigrant rights groups hope the Justice Department will challenge SB4 in court, hoping it will follow the Arizona law.
Lopez Obrador Says Mexico Will Seek to Challenge Texas Law That Allows Detention of Migrants
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that his government will challenge the law issued by the Texas governor. “A procedure is already underway at the Ministry of Foreign Relations to challenge this law,” the Mexican president said.
López Obrador reiterated the position expressed last week by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recalling that migration law is the prerogative of the US federal government.
“These are not the powers of the states, and he (Abbott) is usurping functions and dealing with foreign policy that correspond to Congress and the President of the United States,” the president insisted.
U.S. analysts predicted the Texas law would set off a lengthy legal battle with the federal government, which generally establishes and enforces immigration laws, as well as with human and civil rights organizations.
“It’s inhumane”: Houston politicians react to signing SB4 into anti-immigration law
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