Judge Blocks Texas Law Allowing Police To Detain Migrants Suspected Of Being In The Country Illegally

Aiexpress – A new state law that would grant Texas police the authority to apprehend individuals suspected of illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border has been temporarily halted by a federal judge in Austin.

A preliminary injunction has been issued by U.S. District Judge David Ezra to halt the enforcement of Senate Bill 4, a law that was set to go into effect on Tuesday. The state of Texas is currently facing lawsuits from the federal government and various immigration advocacy groups. This legal battle will continue to unfold as the case progresses.

Ezra expressed in his order on Thursday that the implementation of the law would cause significant and irreversible damage to the federal government. The concern lies in the potential for other states to follow suit and enact their own immigration laws, resulting in an inconsistent and fragmented set of regulations. It is worth noting that immigration matters have traditionally fallen under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government.

According to Ezra, SB 4 poses a threat to the fundamental idea that the United States should have a unified approach to immigration regulation.

In December, Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 4, which represents Texas’ most recent effort to discourage individuals from crossing the Rio Grande in light of the significant influx of migrants at the Texas-Mexico border in recent years.

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Crossing the border illegally is now considered a Class B misdemeanor under the law, which means that those found guilty could face up to six months in jail. However, repeat offenders could be charged with a second-degree felony, carrying a much more severe punishment of two to 20 years in prison.

The law aims to mandate state judges to order the return of migrants to Mexico upon conviction. Local law enforcement would be tasked with transporting the migrants to the border. However, a judge has the discretion to drop the charges if a migrant voluntarily agrees to return to Mexico.

In December, Texas faced legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project, El Paso County, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, and American Gateways. The state was sued over a new law, and subsequently, the U.S. Department of Justice also filed a lawsuit against Texas. These lawsuits have now been consolidated.

The Department of Justice argued during a court hearing on February 15 in Austin that SB 4 is unconstitutional. They pointed out that courts have consistently ruled that immigration falls solely under the authority of the federal government.

Ryan Walters, the lawyer representing Texas, argues that the influx of migrants at the border, including those smuggled by drug cartels, can be considered an invasion. He asserts that Texas has the right to defend itself under Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from engaging in war on their own “unless actually invaded.”

Ezra acknowledged that he understands the concerns raised by Abbott, but he didn’t seem convinced by Walters’ argument.

Ezra confidently stated that there is no evidence of any military invasion in Texas. He expressed his disbelief in the state’s claim and emphasized that he has not personally witnessed any indication of Texas being at war.

Immigrant rights advocates throughout the state expressed their concerns about the potential violation of border residents’ rights as they anxiously awaited the judge’s ruling on SB 4.

Aron Thorn, senior attorney for the Beyond Border Program at Texas Civil Rights Project, expresses concern about the potential consequences of allowing S.B. 4 to be implemented. According to Thorn, if this bill is allowed to take effect, it will not only disregard due process but also put our border communities and immigrant communities at risk. Thorn warns that it could lead to racial profiling, baseless arrests, and the unlawful deportation of our families, friends, and neighbors.

According to Edna Yang, co-executive director at American Gateways, SB 4 does not address the underlying issues of our broken immigration system and instead, it will only serve to divide communities.

“It is a law rooted in xenophobia and racism and it fails to enhance the safety of our communities,” she asserted.

According to the ACLU of Texas’ senior staff attorney, David Donatti, the law will establish a permanent system of mass migrant incarceration that not only fosters civil rights abuses but also squanders billions of taxpayer dollars.

He emphasized that it is not within the jurisdiction of any state to unilaterally determine who can be considered American. Such an action would not only be a violation of the Constitution but also a disregard for human rights and detrimental to international relations.

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