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Fed Sue Texas Regarding Unconstitutional SB 4 Immigration Law

January 04, 2024 (1 min read)

DOJ, Jan. 3, 2024

"The Justice Department today filed suit against the State of Texas to challenge Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and Foreign Commerce Clause. The Constitution assigns the federal government the authority to regulate immigration and manage our international borders. Pursuant to this authority, Congress has established a comprehensive framework governing the entry of noncitizens into the United States and the removal of noncitizens from the country. Because SB 4 is preempted by federal law and violates the U.S. Constitution, the Justice Department seeks a declaration that SB 4 is invalid and an order preliminarily and permanently enjoining the state from enforcing the law.

“SB 4 is clearly unconstitutional,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “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.”

“Texas cannot disregard the United States Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division. “We have brought this action to ensure that Texas adheres to the framework adopted by Congress and the Constitution for regulation of immigration.”    

As outlined in the complaint, Texas’s law would create two new state crimes that attempt to regulate immigration, with charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony. Additionally, SB 4 would give state judges the ability to order removal from the United States. The Supreme Court, in Arizona v. United States, has previously confirmed that decisions relating to removal of noncitizens from the United States touch “on foreign relations and must be made with one voice.” SB 4 impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce entry and removal provisions of federal law and interferes with its conduct of foreign relations.

The suit was filed on behalf of the United States, including the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.