The Biden administration has issued a warning to Texas that it may face a lawsuit concerning a new state law. This law criminalizes illegal entry into the state and gives state authorities increased power to address the ongoing crisis of illegal immigration. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that this law interferes with federal authority by enabling Texas to enforce immigration laws.
The communication from the DOJ to Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, came on Thursday. Texas Republicans have defended the law, citing a significant increase in illegal border crossings and a decrease in deportations since President Joe Biden took office. Brian M. Boynton, a DOJ official, informed Abbott that the department plans on suing to uphold the supremacy of federal law and halt the operation of SB 4, the controversial law.
Boynton emphasized the United States would employ all appropriate legal remedies to prevent Texas from obstructing federal government functions. He indicated that Texas had until the following Wednesday to confirm it would not enforce the law.
The contentious law, approved earlier this month by Abbott after being introduced by Texas Republicans in November, empowers local police to enforce immigration laws. It makes illegal crossing of the Texas-Mexico border a state misdemeanor. This law also allows Texas to deport those who illegally enter the state back to Mexico, posing a direct challenge to the Biden administration’s current catch-and-release policy.
In the letter to Abbott, the DOJ argued that removal of foreign nationals who have entered the U.S. should be solely a federal responsibility. The letter referred to Supreme Court rulings that affirm the federal government’s exclusive discretion over the removal process as it impacts foreign relations and must be conducted with a singular voice.
Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Abbott, stated that Texas is prepared to defend its stance before the U.S. Supreme Court. She criticized President Biden’s policies, asserting that his “deliberate and dangerous inaction” at the border has forced Texas to take matters into its own hands.
This new law is also being legally challenged by progressive legal groups who argue that it is discriminatory. Meanwhile, the number of illegal crossings set a record in November, with no indications of decreasing in December.
Previously, the Biden administration sued Texas over an initiative by Abbott to establish water barriers in the Rio Grande to discourage illegal immigration.