The Biden administration is responding to a Texas-sized challenge to its authority as the state tries to crack down on the flood of illegal immigrants entering it from Mexico.
The legislation gives illegal immigrants who are arrested by state and local authorities a choice — remain in Texas behind bars, or accept deportation to Mexico. The law makes being in the state illegally a misdemeanor charge with up to a six-month jail sentence. Charges increase for repeat offenders to become felonies — with a sentence of 2 to 20 years — but those can be dropped if the immigrant agrees to be deported.
A court challenge was expected because, as noted by National Review, the most recent Supreme Court ruling on the issue, Arizona v. U.S., says the federal government has the sole power to deport illegal immigrants.
A Department of Justice complaint said “Texas cannot run its own immigration system. Its efforts, through SB 4, intrude on the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens, frustrate the United States’ immigration operations and proceedings, and interfere with U.S. foreign relations. SB 4 is invalid and must be enjoined.”
The complaint demands Texas annul the law before it takes effect on March 5.
The complaint claims that Texas is interfering with a finely-tuned effort to address immigration issues.
“If SB 4 takes effect, it will interfere with federal immigration operations, including the carefully calibrated law-enforcement scheme governing entry and the comprehensive removal scheme, which also includes relief or protection from removal. It will interfere with the exclusive authority of the federal government to control entry into the United States and removal of noncitizens to foreign countries as well as the conduct of foreign relations,” the complaint said.
The complaint said that a process to remove illegal immigrants already exists and that the Texas law is duplicative, while also noting that the federal government has procedures in place to protect illegal immigrants against being deported.
“SB 4 would also impede the federal government’s ability to take appropriate enforcement actions and assess a noncitizen’s national security and public-safety risks,” the complaint said.
The complaint said the law “would interfere with the federal government’s ability to conduct foreign relations by imposing criminal penalties and immigration consequences on foreign nationals based on their entry into the United States.”
“The foreign-relations concerns are exacerbated because the purpose and effect of SB 4 would be to remove noncitizens to Mexico, regardless of their nationality. SB 4 permits state judges and magistrates to order the removal of noncitizens to Mexico, regardless of their country of citizenship, and without any indication that Mexico is willing to accept them, potentially subjecting noncitizens to further criminal penalty if Mexico denies entry,” the complaint said.
The bottom line is that Texas cannot enter into an area where the federal government supersedes the state.
“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,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement, according to Axios.
“It’s a humane, logical and efficient approach to a problem created and fostered by the Biden administration’s failure and refusal to secure our border,” Spiller said.
“There’s nothing unfair about ordering someone back from where they came if they arrived here illegally,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.