Justice Department sues Texas over law to let police arrest illegal immigrants

The Justice Department on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Texas over a state law allowing authorities to arrest illegal immigrants, pitting Republican Gov. Greg Abbott against the Biden administration as both remain at odds over how to handle the escalating crisis at the southern border. 

The lawsuit, filed in an Austin federal court, came after Abbott signed into law last month a measure challenging the federal government’s authority over immigration matters. In addition to Biden, several blue cities like New York and Chicago have pushed back against Abbott for having thousands of migrants bussed from his state to their jurisdictions. 

“The United States brings this action to preserve its exclusive authority under federal law to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens,” the lawsuit states. “Texas cannot run its own immigration system. “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 U.S. foreign relations.”


Texas is also fighting a separate court battle over the installation of razor wire on the Rio Grande and a floating barrier, which has angered Mexican leaders as well. 

Under the Texas law, migrants could either agree to a judge’s order to leave the U.S. or be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of illegal entry. Those who don’t leave could face serious felony charges if arrested again.

Those ordered to leave would be sent to ports of entry along the border with Mexico, even if they are not Mexican citizens. The law can be enforced anywhere in Texas but some places are off-limits, including schools and churches.


Fox News Digital has reached out to Abbott’s office. 

Last week, the Justice Department sent Abbott a letter threatening legal action unless Texas reversed course. In response, Abbott posted on X that the Biden administration “not only refuses to enforce current U.S. immigration laws, they now want to stop Texas from enforcing laws against illegal immigration.”

The governor has repeatedly accused the Biden administration of failing to address issues at the border amid record numbers of migrants crossing into the United States. The bussing program has angered Democrats in blue cities, who say their jurisdictions lack sufficient resources to care for migrants they’ve received. 

Illegal crossings along the southern U.S. border topped 10,000 on several days in December, a number that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Troy Miller called “unprecedented.” U.S. authorities closed cargo rail crossings in Eagle Pass and El Paso for five days last month, calling it a response to many migrants riding freight trains through Mexico to the border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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