Biden administration threatens lawsuit if Texas enforces immigration law

 

The Biden administration on Thursday warned Texas that it will sue the state if it implements a strict immigration law known as SB4 that would empower state and local law enforcement officials to arrest, jail and prosecute migrants suspected of entering the U.S. unlawfully.

The Justice Department said it would file a lawsuit against SB4 if Texas did not assure federal officials by Jan. 3 that the state would refrain from enforcing the law as planned in March, according to a letter sent to Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 28 and obtained by CBS News. In addition to creating illegal entry crimes at the state level, the law would allow Texas judges to issue de facto deportation orders.

In its letter, the Justice Department said SB4 would effectively criminalize actions that are already illegal at the federal level, undermine relations with Mexico and prevent officials from enforcing federal immigration laws, including those designed to grant refuge to migrants fleeing persecution.

“Because SB 4 is unconstitutional and will disrupt the federal government’s operations, we request that Texas forbear in its enforcement,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in his letter to Abbott.

If Texas does not heed the Biden administration’s demand, “the United States intends to file suit to enjoin the enforcement of SB 4,” Boynton warned.

Representatives for Abbott, who signed SB4 earlier this month after the measure was passed by the Texas legislature, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. SB4 is already being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has also argued the law is unconstitutional.

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