Texas sued over new immigration law

The state of Texas is facing a lawsuit over a new law that allows state and local law enforcement to arrest people who enter Texas illegally.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law in Brownsville on Monday.

"We expect a dramatic drop well over 50%, maybe 75%, of the people coming across the border illegally will stop entering through the State of Texas," Abbott said Monday.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) filed a lawsuit in an Austin federal court to challenge the bill.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of El Paso County and two immigrant rights organizations, names Texas DPS director Steve McCraw and Bill Hicks, El Paso's district attorney.

The suit asks a judge to declare SB4 is "unlawful in its entirety" and to prevent enforcement of the new law.

"We’re suing to block one of the most extreme anti-immigrant bills in the country," said Adriana Piñon, legal director of the ACLU of Texas.

SB4 creates a state crime for illegal entry from a foreign nation. It would allow state and local law enforcement officers to arrest people who illegally enter, or re-enter, at the border.

The language of the bill says if the migrant is detained they will appear before a judge.

Under the Texas law, migrants ordered to leave would be sent to ports of entry along the border with Mexico, even if they are not Mexican citizens or they could face time in jail.

Dallas County leaders opposed the bill, saying it could lead to overcrowding of jails.

"It opens the door for the potential of biased policing," said Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown back in November.

When we talked to Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, he told FOX 4 he sees the law as being a tool for law enforcement in border counties only.

"It's very clear this is a tool for the police officers on the border, at the border. And I don't see any impact on North Texas or north of the border," said Waybourn in November.

To be clear, the law empowers any officer, anywhere in the state.

Critics say SB4 is unconstitutional, claiming only the federal government has the power to classify and determine the admission and the expulsion of non-citizens.

"S.B. 4 violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. Immigration is a quintessentially federal authority," reads the lawsuit. "S.B. 4 jettisons this system, grasping control over immigration from the federal government and depriving people subject to that system of all of the federal rights and due process that Congress provided to them, including the rights to contest removal and seek asylum"

Opponents say that the new law will lead to racial profiling and harassment.

"The bill overrides bedrock constitutional principles and flouts federal immigration law while harming Texans, in particular Brown and Black communities," said Piñon.

During Monday's bill signing, Gov. Abbott directly addressed questions about potential legal challenges.

"We believe this law has been crafted in a way that can and should be upheld in courts on its own," said Abbott.

The governor did acknowledge that the law could challenge the Supreme Court's 2012 decision in Arizona v. United States, which rejected most of an Arizona state immigration law, known as the Show Me Your Papers Law, because it conflicted with federal immigration laws.


EAGLE PASS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 19: In an aerial view, thousands of immigrants, most wearing thermal blankets, await processing at a U.S. Border Patrol transit center on December 19, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. Major surges of migrants illegally crossing

The president of Mexico also said his country is going to challenge the law on Tuesday.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador added that he thinks that Gov. Abbott is angling for a spot in the White House with the new law.

Senate Bill 4 is currently set to take effect in March.