Dec 19, 2023 - World

Civil rights, advocacy groups sue to stop Texas immigration law

A U.S. Border Patrol agent speaks with immigrants at a transit center near the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 19 in Eagle Pass, Texas. Photo:John Moore/Getty Images

Civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to challenge the new Texas law that gives local police authority over immigration enforcement.

The big picture: Critics say the law is unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling.

  • The lawsuit, filed in an Austin federal court by several parties including the county of El Paso, Texas, says the law is "patently illegal."
  • Mexico is also planning to challenge the law, per Reuters.

Catch up quick: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed into law Senate Bill 4, which makes it a state misdemeanor to illegally cross the Texas-Mexico border.

  • The law also allows local judges to order a person removed to Mexico.

The other side: Proponents of the law, which is scheduled to take effect on March 5, say it will empower local law enforcement to target those who have crossed the border illegally, not people who are in the state legally.

  • "President Biden has repeatedly refused to enforce federal immigration laws already on the books and do his job to secure the border. In his absence, Texas has the constitutional authority to secure our border through historic laws like SB 4," Abbott told Axios in a statement.
  • "Texas will take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to protect Texans from President Biden's dangerous open border policies."

What they're saying: "We're suing to block one of the most extreme anti-immigrant bills in the country," Adriana Piñon, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a written statement.

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