Greg Abbott Faces a Legal Setback on the Border Shortly Before Biden’s Texas Visit

In a notable setback for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a federal court put a pause on the state’s fresh deportation statute Thursday, which was scheduled to start on March 5. 

Judicial Blow to Immigration Arrests

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The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas stepped in with a preliminary injunction against Texas Senate Bill 4—a law green-lighted with an 88 to 4 vote, empowering local and state police to arrest, detain, and deport individuals suspected of illegally crossing into the state from other countries. 

Abbott Vows to Fight 


Abbott didn’t waste a moment to announce an appeal, stating, “Texas will immediately appeal this decision, and we will not back down in our fight to protect our state—and our nation—from President Biden’s border crisis,” 

Texas’ Right to Self-Defense

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In his remarks shared with Newsweek, Abbott emphasized Texas’ right to self-defense against what he describes as an invasion at the southern border due to Biden’s alleged inaction. 

Hope Against Federal Ruling

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Abbott’s statement highlighted the expectation that the Supreme Court will have the final say, a sentiment echoed by the district judge’s own admission.

Biden and Trump’s Texas Visits

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The court’s decision coincided with a high-profile day in Texas, as both President Joe Biden and leading Republican contender Donald Trump were making stops in Brownsville and Eagle Pass, respectively. 

Biden’s agenda includes a meeting with federal Border Patrol agents, while Trump focuses on Eagle Pass, a hotspot in the immigration debate. 

Civil Rights Groups’ Opposition

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A coalition of civil rights groups, spearheaded by the ACLU and the Texas Civil Rights Project, has taken legal action against Texas’ S.B. 4, arguing it violates federal the supremacy clause by enforcing deportation orders without regard for federal protections like asylum. 

Minority Groups at Risk 

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This legal challenge, combined with a Department of Justice action, emphasizes the risk of racial profiling and the disproportionate impact on minority communities.

A Pause in Texas’ Enforcement Plans

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The recent court decision to temporarily suspend the law’s activation, originally scheduled for March 5, 2024, setting the stage for an extended legal battle and an anticipated state appeal.

ACLU Hails Court Decision

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Anand Balakrishnan, a leading attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, hailed the federal court’s ruling as a reaffirmation of longstanding Supreme Court directives that place immigration control firmly in federal hands. 

Constitutional Scrutiny

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Balakrishnan labeled S.B. 4 as “a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to bypass federal law. We applaud the court’s decision, but we must ensure this harmful law is struck down altogether.”

Community Triumph Over S.B. 4

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Edna Yang, co-leader of American Gateways, embraced the ruling as a triumph for community welfare, blocking a state policy she criticizes as ‘harmful, unconstitutional, and discriminatory’ from coming into force. 

Local vs. Federal Enforcement

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She argued against local officials doubling as federal immigration enforcers and opposed state-driven legal frameworks that infringe on individuals’ rights to seek refuge in the U.S. 

Federal Action for Asylum Rights

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Yang acknowledged the court’s decision as a step forward but stressed the persistent denial of asylum rights to many fleeing persecution, advocating for a federal legislative overhaul as the solution to the flawed immigration system.

The Injunction’s Legal Basis

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The 114-page verdict details several reasons for granting an injunction against S.B. 4, highlighting the established precedent that restricts states from taking on immigration enforcement roles without federal authorization. 

A Clash With International Commitments

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The ruling points out that S.B. 4 clashes with crucial aspects of federal immigration legislation, adversely affecting the United States’ international relations and obligations under various treaties.

No ‘Invasion’

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Judge David Ezra, in his decision, emphasized that increases in immigration do not meet the constitutional definition of an ‘invasion’, nor does Texas’ enforcement of S.B. 4 equate to a state of war. 

Constitutional Limits of State Power

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He argued that permitting Texas to override federal guidelines under the guise of repelling an invasion would essentially invalidate federal law and authority, a concept fundamentally opposed to the Constitution and consistently dismissed by federal courts since the Civil War.

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