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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The SB 4 Law and next steps for Texas immigration

The Big Bend Sentinel
Protestors holding up signs in opposition to SB 4.

March 15, 2024/Midnight 


Erie Pa.— The Biden administration has shot down a new Texas immigration law referred to as Senate Bill 4 (SB 4). Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has extended the pause put on the implementation law, which was originally supposed to be lifted on March 13, but will now be in place until March 18. The pause was taken to halt the lower court ruling that would have originally turned Senate Bill 4, which was signed into Texas legislature early last year, into a state law.  


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According to CBS News, SB 4 would give Texas law enforcement the authorization to criminally arrest, jail, and persecute any migrant who is believed to have entered or reentered the U.S. outside of an official entry port. Legally, this type of persecution can only be done at the federal level, but the implementation of the SB 4 law would allow it to be done locally in the Texas state courts. 


If a migrant were to be detained in accordance with SB 4, first time offenders could be charged with a misdemeanor, and have to serve up to 6 months in jail, according to The Texas Tribune. Repeat offenders could be charged with a felony and face up to 20 years in prison. The caveat being that all charges will be dropped if the migrant decides to voluntarily return to their home country.  


The Biden administration has rejected the law, calling it “anti-immigrant,” as it allegedly goes against the pre-existing policies concerning immigration and asylum in the US, CBS News reports. Referred to as “one of the toughest immigration laws in US history,” if SB 4 were to be integrated into Texas law, it may have severe consequences, and potentially jeopardize any future relations with Mexican government.  


Texan officials have heavily defended SB 4, claiming the law would help stop the “invasion” at the border. Texas Governor Greg Abbott wants to enact the law to deter migrants from crossing the Rio Grande and entering the country illegally.  


“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,” Gov. Abbott stated in an official statement released back in February in regard to the initial pause. “The President of the United States has a constitutional duty to enforce federal laws protecting States, including laws already on the books that mandate the detention of illegal immigrants. Texas has the right to defend itself because of President Biden’s ongoing failure to fulfill his duty to protect our state from the invasion at our southern border.” 


The pushback against the law is not only coming from the Biden administration. Many immigration advocacy groups and civil rights organizations have spoken in opposition of SB 4, claiming that it would endanger all people of color thorough the state.  


Numerous activist groups including, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Texas, and Texas Civil Rights project, jointly filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateways, and El Paso County, according to the ACLU website. The lawsuit, filed on March 5, argues that SB 4 is “patently illegal,” and unconstitutional.  


Together the civil rights group released a joint statement saying in part: We have long warned that this law will separate families, lead to racial profiling across the state, and harm people across the state as Governor Abbott continues his relentless campaign against people who are immigrants. We urge the Supreme Court to undo the appeals courts administrative stay and preserve the decision keeping this harmful law from going into effect.” 


The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) argues that if this law were to be accepted federally and enacted within the state of Texas, other states would also try to pass potentially faulty immigration laws of their own. The DOJ also brings up the concern that passing a law like SB 4 could affect foreign relations, not just with the countries south of the border. 


Immigration enforcement involves a sensitive balancing of United Statesinterests in national security and foreign relations, including the reciprocal treatment of U.S. citizens abroad,” Lawyers for the DOJ tell The Texas Tribune.And allowing each State to arrest, detain, prosecute, and remove foreign nationals would fundamentally undermine that delicate balance.” 


The next immigration steps in Texas are in question. As of now, the pause on the ruling has been extended until March 18 and a court date scheduled with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear any of Texas’ arguments in favor of the SB4 law, is currently set to take place on April 3. 


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