The Department of Justice (DOJ) warned Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) it will sue Texas if he enforces a new state law that allows for the prosecution and deportation of migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.
Abbott signed the legislation earlier this month, citing the increased number of migrant encounters at the U.S. southern border.
The law, set to take effect March 5, allows any Texas law enforcement officer to arrest those suspected of illegal entry into the country. Once arrested, migrants must either agree to a judge’s order to leave the U.S. or face misdemeanor charges of illegal entry.
In a letter addressed to Abbott and obtained by The Hill, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton said the Lone Star State’s new law is unconstitutional and disrupts the federal government’s immigration enforcement operations.
The letter referenced a 2012 Supreme Court case — Arizona v. United States — in which the nation’s highest court ruled that federal immigration laws often trump state law even if there isn’t direct conflict.
If Abbott does not inform the DOJ that the state will give up enforcement of the new law by Jan. 3, “the United States will pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.”
While the federal government is tasked with regulating immigration and controlling international borders, Abbott and other state leaders have argued the Biden administration is not doing enough to address the influx of migrants at the border.
Abbott on Thursday clapped back at the letter on social media.
“The Biden Admin. not only refuses to enforce current U.S. immigration laws, they now want to stop Texas from enforcing laws against illegal immigration,” the governor wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “I’ve never seen such hostility to the rule of law in America. Biden is destroying America. Texas is trying to save it.”
The new law marks an escalation of Abbott’s efforts to lessen the effects of migration into his state. His other tactics have included sending buses and flights of migrants to so-called sanctuary cities, along with authorizing additional border wall construction.
This story was updated at 5:08 p.m.
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