Lawmakers Argue For Bill On Texas Border Issues

Lawyers for the federal government and the state of Texas were in front of an appeals court Wednesday, arguing over the constitutionality of a Texas law that allows local officers to arrest and charge immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally.

Wednesday, April 3rd 2024, 5:34 pm



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Lawyers for the federal government and the state of Texas were in front of an appeals court Wednesday, arguing over the constitutionality of a Texas law that allows local officers to arrest and charge immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally.

A small group stood outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, protesting Texas's controversial immigration law known as SB 4, which allows state and local officers to arrest and deport migrants suspected of entering the country illegally.

“We drove 20 hours from El Paso to get to New Orleans just to be here today,” said Fernando Garcia, a participant in the ‘We Will Resist’ campaign.

Lawyers for Texas argued SB 4 is needed, claiming migrants are overrunning the border because the Biden administration is not enforcing immigration laws.

“This is the first decision where a federal judge has found, as a matter of fact,” argued Texas Solicitor General Aaron Nielson, “that federal officers are deliberately and “disingenuously” not enforcing federal law.”

But the Department of Justice says it does enforce the law and that the federal government is the only entity with the authority to do so.

“What SB 4 says is that that person would be charged with a Texas crime, brought before a Texas court,” said Assistant Attorney General Daniel Tenney. “There is no room in the INA (Immigration and Naturalization Act) for that.”

The case is expected to ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court, where justices will need to decide what power, if any, states have to create their own immigration laws.

“What Texas has done here is they have looked at the Supreme Court’s precedent, and they have tried to develop a statute that goes up to the line of Supreme Court precedent but allows Texas to protect the border,” Nielson told the judges. “Now, to be fair, maybe Texas went too far.”

The 3-judge panel questioned the legality of the Texas law, citing a 2012 Supreme Court ruling striking down Arizona's so-called "show me your papers" law and reaffirming the federal government's "broad and undoubted power" over immigration.

“What are we supposed to do with Arizona?” asked Chief Judge Priscilla Richman. “I know you say it wasn’t right, but it’s on the books.”

Court observers say the Texas case may allow the new, more conservative Supreme Court to revisit that ruling.

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