US admin sues Texas over controversial immigration law

Washington, Jan 4 (IANS): US President Joe Biden's administration has filed a lawsuit against Texas over a controversial immigration law that makes entering the state illegally a crime -- one of the toughest immigration laws passed in the country's history to curb illegal immigration.

In December last year, the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law SB 4 -- a transformative package of border security legislation to bolster Texas’ unprecedented border security efforts and crackdown on human smuggling; deter the flow of illegal border crossings; and protect the lives and property of Texans by funding the ongoing construction of the state's border wall, an official statement had said at the time.

SB4 also allows local and state police officers to stop and arrest anyone suspected of having crossed the border illegally, except in schools and hospitals.

Punishments range from misdemeanours to felonies that can lead to jail time or fines of up to $2,000

The Texas legislature had passed the measure in November 2023 and is expected to take effect in March this year.

In its lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the Justice Department argued that Texas “cannot run its own immigration system" and the measure undercuts the federal government’s “exclusive authority” to enforce immigration law, CNN reported.

“Its efforts, through SB 4, 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 US foreign relations. SB 4 is invalid and must be enjoined,” the complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, says.

The Justice Department requested that the measure be blocked.

“SB 4 is clearly unconstitutional,” CNN quoted Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta as saying in a statement.

“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. The Justice Department will continue to fulfill its responsibility to uphold the Constitution and enforce federal law.”

Just a day before the Texas law was signed, the US Customs and Border Protection had announced it would temporarily suspend operations at the international railway crossing bridges in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas due to a surge in border crossings by migrants.

Border authorities apprehended about 192,000 migrants between ports of entry in November 2023, a 2 per cent increase compared with the 188,000 migrant apprehensions in October, according to the US Border Patrol.





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Title: US admin sues Texas over controversial immigration law

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