The Biden administration on Thursday threatened to sue Texas if it moves forward with a new anti-illegal immigration law signed this month by Gov. Greg Abbott – but the Republican governor says he is prepared to take the fight to the Supreme Court.
Abbott signed the legislation, SB 4, this month, which allows law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants and allows state judges to order them removed from the country.
In a letter to Abbott, first reported by the Houston Chronicle, the Department of Justice says it will “pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.”
The letter says that the law “intrudes into a field that is occupied by the federal government and is preempted,” citing a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, U.S. v Arizona, which found that the federal government has the power to enforce immigration law, according to the outlet.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Abbott’s office said Texas was prepared to go to the nation’s highest court in defense of the legislation.
“Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect Texans and Americans from President Biden’s open border policies,” spokesperson Renae Eze said. “President Biden’s deliberate and dangerous inaction at our southern border has left Texas to fend for itself. Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law last week to help stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas as the President refuses to enforce federal immigration laws.”
The legal battle is the latest clash between Abbott and the Biden administration over the illegal immigrant crisis at the border, of which Texas has been on the front line. Abbott has accused the Biden administration of failing to secure the border, while the administration has accused Abbott of promoting inhumane policies at the border.
Last week a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the Biden administration from cutting razor wire set up by Texas earlier this year. The state had sued in October and had been rebuffed by a federal judge, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals barred the Biden administration from damaging, destroying, or otherwise interfering with Texas’s [concertina wire] fence in the vicinity of Eagle Pass, Texas” unless it is for a medical emergency.
Separately, the DOJ has sued Texas over its deployment of buoys in the Rio Grande to stop illegal crossings. Texas says the buoys are designed to save lives by preventing people from entering the river, but humanitarian groups and the DOJ argue the barrier poses a safety risk.
The White House has also criticized Abbott for his moves to bus migrants to “sanctuary” cities, including Chicago and New York City, which Abbott says is necessary to relieve overwhelmed border communities.
“We believe that Gov. Abbott’s policies and political stunts are not safe, not safe for Texas communities and our CBP, our law enforcement on the ground who are trying to do their work. It puts them in harm’s way, and they dehumanize and demonize immigrants. That’s what his political stunts do,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week.
The threat of a new lawsuit comes as the border is again seeing record numbers at the border. Fox News reported this week that during the four-day Christmas weekend, there were more than 35,000 migrant encounters, and since Dec. 1, there have been over 250,000 migrant encounters at the southern border.
Meanwhile, a delegation from the Biden administration including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday to discuss the migration crisis in the hemisphere.