UPDATED: This article has been updated since publication.

Less than a week before it was set to go into effect, a federal judge has blocked Texas from enforcing its new border security law, setting the stage for an immediate appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge David Alan Ezra ruled Thursday in favor of the federal government, arguing that Texas’ new law violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by exercising “immigration enforcement power.”

He argued that “surges in immigration” do not constitute an invasion under Article 1 Section 10 Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. 

To allow Texas to permanently supersede federal directives based on an invasion would amount to nullification of federal law and authority—a notion that is antithetical to the Constitution and has been unequivocally rejected by the federal courts since the Civil War.   

The law in question, Senate Bill 4, creates a new state crime for entering Texas illegally and authorizes Texas law enforcement to arrest and prosecute those who cross the border illegally anywhere in Texas. 

During Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing of the measure, he addressed the confusion around the Supremacy Clause. 

“The authors of the United States Constitution foresaw a situation when the federal government would be inattentive to states that faced charges at their borders,” said Abbott. “And in response, they inserted Article One Section 10 to the United States Constitution, to empower states to take action to defend themselves. And that is exactly what Texas is doing.”

SB 4 was set to go into effect on March 5, 2024. 

State Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro), the House Sponsor of SB 4, told Texas Scorecard, “I respectfully – but adamantly – disagree with the ruling, and vehemently disagree with the rationale contained in the Court’s order.”

“I believe SB 4 is completely constitutional because it is not in conflict with the precedent set in the Arizona v. United States case, it’s not preempted by existing federal immigration law, it’s not in conflict with existing federal immigration law, and Texas has the absolute constitutional right, authority, and ability to protect and secure its borders and its sovereignty,” he added.

Texas immediately appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, with Attorney General Ken Paxton saying Texas has “clear right to defend itself from the drug smugglers, human traffickers, cartels, and legions of illegal aliens crossing into our State as a consequence of the Biden Administration’s deliberate policy choices.”

“I will do everything possible to defend Texas’s right to defend herself against the catastrophic illegal invasion encouraged by the federal government,” he added.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.