The Justice Department on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over a state law that allows authorities to arrest illegal immigrants, a move that comes amid ongoing tensions between the two parties over their handling of the escalating crisis at the southern border. It has pitted Governor Abbott and the Biden administration against each other.
The lawsuit, filed in Austin federal court, comes after Mr. Abbott signed a bill last month challenging the federal government’s authority on immigration matters. In addition to Mr. Biden, several blue cities, including New York and Chicago, are pushing back against Mr. Abbott for busing thousands of immigrants from his state to their jurisdictions.
“The United States brought this action to maintain its exclusive authority under federal law to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens,” the complaint states. “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 and interfere with U.S. immigration operations and processes. and interfere in the foreign relations of the United States.”
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Texas is also fighting a separate legal battle over the installation of razor wire and floating barriers on the Rio Grande, which has also angered Mexican leaders.
Under Texas law, immigrants must agree to a judge’s order to leave the United States or face a misdemeanor charge of illegal entry. Those who do not leave could face felony charges if arrested again.
Those ordered to leave will be sent to ports of entry along the border with Mexico, even if they are not Mexican citizens. The law can be enforced anywhere in Texas, but there are some places, such as schools and churches, that people are prohibited from entering.
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Fox News Digital has reached out to Abbott’s office.
The Justice Department sent a letter to Abbott last week threatening legal action unless Texas reversed course. In response, Mr. Abbott wrote to .
The governor has repeatedly accused the Biden administration of failing to address border issues as record numbers of immigrants enter the United States. The busing plan has drawn the ire of Democrats in blue cities, who say their jurisdictions lack sufficient resources to care for the immigrants they take in.
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The number of illegal border crossings along the U.S. southern border exceeded 10,000 on several days in December, a number Troy Miller, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, called “unprecedented.” U.S. authorities closed the Eagle Pass and El Paso freight crossings for five days last month in response to large numbers of migrants boarding freight trains through Mexico to the border.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.