This month, Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton received a special delivery from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has warned Texas in a letter acquired by the Dallas Morning News that if the state proceeds with implementing its contentious immigration law, the Joe Biden administration will take legal action against it.
The letter addresses a new immigration law called Senate Bill 4, which grants state and local police the authority to arrest migrants, and permits state judges to approve deportations. According to the Department of Justice’s letter, this new law is deemed unconstitutional.
The principal deputy assistant attorney general, Brian Boynton, wrote a letter stating that the United States plans to take legal action to prevent the enforcement of SB 4 unless Texas agrees not to enforce the law. The Houston Chronicle was the first to report on this letter.
Governor Abbott took to social media to express his concerns about the current state of America under President Biden’s leadership. In his post, he emphasized that Texas is determined to protect and preserve the country amidst what he perceives as destructive actions.
“I have never witnessed such a blatant disregard for the rule of law in America,” expressed the three-term governor in a recent post on Thursday afternoon.
Governor Abbott recently signed the new law in a ceremony held in Brownsville. During the ceremony, he emphasized that the new measure was carefully designed to avoid legal challenges.
The implementation of this policy introduces a fresh state offense, namely unauthorized entry into the country, which enables the state to prosecute immigrants with a Class B misdemeanor. This offense carries a potential penalty of up to six months in jail or a fine of $2,000. If individuals have a prior conviction for this offense, the penalty could escalate to a state jail felony.
State judges would have the power to order the removal of migrants who are in the state illegally and send them back to the country they entered from, which is usually Mexico.
El Paso County and two immigration rights groups filed a lawsuit against the state the day after Abbott signed the law. The ACLU of Texas took the lead in this legal action.
The state has recently passed one of the strictest immigration laws, which has faced immediate backlash from immigration advocates, attorneys, and even the Mexican government.
A letter criticizing the legislation was also signed by numerous former immigration judges appointed by presidents from both political parties before it reached Abbott’s desk.
The law supports Operation Lone Star, a massive operation initiated by the governor in March 2021. The border is being patrolled by numerous Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Texas National Guard members.
The governor has emphasized immigration as a crucial topic during the campaign and has consistently stated that Texas possesses the constitutional authority to enforce immigration laws such as SB 4.
The federal government’s authority over federal immigration laws is being challenged by this law. The Supreme Court has established that states have limited power in terms of enforcing immigration laws.
Boynton’s letter highlights this point and references the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a comparable law implemented by Arizona over ten years ago.
“The federal government has been entrusted with the responsibility of regulating immigration and maintaining control over the international borders, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution,” stated Boynton.
During the signing ceremony, Abbott expressed his enthusiasm for a lawsuit that has the potential to reach the Supreme Court. He is hopeful that the newly established conservative majority will grant states greater authority in implementing immigration policies.
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