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Civil Rights Groups Sue To Block Texas Immigration Law

Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit over a recently approved, strict immigration measure in Texas that allows police to arrest immigrants suspected of crossing the border illegally, the Texas Tribune reports. The law was signed by Gov. Greg Abbot on Monday, and is set to go into effect March 5, but attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Civil Rights Project have asked a federal judge to block it. They claim in their lawsuit that only the federal government has authority to govern immigration enforcement, and that the law would prevent immigrants from requesting asylum in the U.S. — a right they have regardless of how they enter the country. “Governor Abbott’s efforts to circumvent the federal immigration system and deny people the right to due process is not only unconstitutional, but also dangerously prone to error, and will disproportionately harm Black and Brown people regardless of their immigration status,” said Anand Balakrishnan, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “We’re using every tool at our disposal, including litigation, to stop this egregious law from going into effect.” 


The law would make it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry. Police who suspect that a person crossed the border illegally can arrest them and charge them with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders could face a second-degree felony with a punishment of two to 20 years in prison. Abbott has said the law will deter illegal immigration into the state. “The consequences of it are so extreme that the people being smuggled by the cartels, they will not want to be coming into the state of Texas,” he said on Monday during a bill signing event. Federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled that immigration laws can only be enforced by the federal government.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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