The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project have filed a lawsuit to challenge landmark border security legislation. 

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, the American Gateways, and the County of El Paso. 

The suit challenges Senate Bill 4 which makes it a crime to enter the state illegally. The measure, along with Senate Bill 3 which provides funding for border barrier infrastructure, was signed on Monday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. 

In its lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the legislation violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which declares that federal law is superior to state law. They claim that SB 4 is an attempt to regulate immigration matters that are “exclusively reserved to the federal government.”

“We’re suing to block one of the most extreme anti-immigrant bills in the country,” said Adriana Piñon, legal director of the ACLU of Texas. “The bill overrides bedrock constitutional principles and flouts federal immigration law while harming Texans, in particular Brown and Black communities.”

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that SB 4 is entirely unlawful and to preliminarily and permanently enjoin Steven McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, from enforcing the measure. 

During Abbott’s signing, he addressed the confusion around the Supremacy Clause, saying, “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.”

Austin lawyer Tony McDonald told Texas Scorecard that Texas has every right to defend itself.

“Texas is a sovereign state and has a right to defend itself from invasion,” said McDonald. “Federal courts shouldn’t side with the ACLU in supporting the federal government’s program of chaos at our southern border.”

Unless the court rules halts the enforcement of SB 4, it will go into effect March 5, 2024. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.