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Department of Justice sues Texas over immigration law

By Jake Beardslee · January 4, 2024

In brief…

  • DOJ sues to block new Texas law allowing police to detain illegal immigrants and judges to deport them
  • Argues the policy interferes with federal authority over immigration
  • Law signed by Gov. Abbott last month, set to take effect in March
  • ACLU already filed separate lawsuit challenging the law
  • Legal fight likely heads to Supreme Court
The Justice Department sued Texas to block a new state law that allows local police and judges to detain and deport immigrants who illegally cross the border, arguing it interferes with federal authority over immigration policy.  Office of Representative Phil Gingrey/Wikimedia

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a new Texas law that a;;pws local police to detain immigrants who have entered the country illegally and allows state judges to deport them. The DOJ contends this measure tramples on the federal government’s sole authority to enforce immigration laws.

In a statement, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said: Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and longstanding Supreme Court precedent, states cannot adopt immigration laws that interfere with the framework enacted by Congress,” Politico reported.

The controversial law was signed last month by Republican Governor Greg Abbott and is scheduled to take effect in March. The ACLU has already filed a separate lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. Legal experts predict this new DOJ case will ultimately reach the Supreme Court.

Migrants ordered to leave would be sent to ports of entry on the Mexican border, even if they are not Mexican citizens, the Associated Press reported. The law can be enforced anywhere in Texas but is prohibited in certain areas like schools and churches.

For over two years, Texas has operated a smaller-scale program to arrest migrants along the border on misdemeanor trespassing charges. However, the AP noted, there is little evidence that initiative has succeeded in reducing illegal crossings.