The Department of Justice has filed a complaint against Texas’ new immigration law, as the Biden administration looks to stop a new state law from taking effect.
Last month, Texas passed a new law that allows local law enforcement agencies to arrest people who cross into the country illegally. The legislation was another step by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to rein in the surge of migrants at the southern border, at a time when he says the federal government isn’t doing nearly enough.
More people cross the border daily into Texas than sanctuary city New York sees in a week.
This must end.
If Biden enforced federal immigration law, cities across America would not be dealing with this border crisis. pic.twitter.com/1cMsIt1ffH
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 4, 2024
The law states that once migrants are arrested, they have the choice to either remain in jail in Texas or be deported to Mexico.
Being in Texas illegally is now a misdemeanor charge, according to the law, and carries a maximum penalty of six months behind bars. Repeat offenders will see charges increased to felonies, with corresponding sentences between two and 20 years in jail.
All of those charges get dropped, though, if the migrant chooses deportation.
The Biden administration was always expected to challenge the law in court, citing a recent Supreme Court decision that ruled that the federal government alone has the power to deport people who are in the country illegally.
“Texas cannot run its own immigration system,” the DOJ wrote in a complaint. “Its efforts … intrude on the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens, frustrate the United States’ immigration operations and proceedings, and interfere with U.S. foreign relations.”
In the complaint, the DOJ argues that the Texas law must be annulled before it goes into effect March 5.
The Biden administration further argues that the U.S. has a process in place to remove immigrants who are in the country illegally already, making Texas’ law both duplicative and contradictory.
That’s because there are procedures the federal government has enacted to protect migrants against deportation just for being in the country illegally.
Despite this challenge, many Texas lawmakers stand behind the new bill.
State Rep. David Spiller (R), for instance, said it’s “a landmark bill that allows Texans to protect Texas.”