Texas will appeal ruling to block law allowing police to arrest illegal immigrants, Abbott says

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will appeal a ruling by a federal judge to block a law that would make illegal immigration a state crime.

Texas will appeal a ruling by a federal judge to block the state from enforcing a law that would make illegal immigration a state crime, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday, further escalating his legal fight with the Biden administration. 

Hours earlier, U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra of the Western District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction to block Texas’ Senate Bill 4 from taking effect next week. The law would allow state authorities to arrest and jail illegal immigrants, and would give state judges the power to order deportations. 

In his ruling, Ezra wrote that states “may not exercise immigration enforcement power except as authorized by the federal government.”


Abbott, who has said Texas will enforce immigration laws within its borders in the absence of federal enforcement, said Texas has a constitutional right to defend itself. 

“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,” he said in a statement. “

“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,” he added. “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.”

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Ezra, a Reagan appointee, acknowledged that the case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Abbott said. 


Senate Bill 4 was signed by Abbott into law in December. At the time, he said the aim of the legislation was to “stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas.” 

The injunction came in response to a lawsuit by immigration and civil rights groups. Under the law, migrants in Texas law enforcement custody could either agree to a deportation order or be prosecuted for misdemeanor charges of illegal entry into the U.S. 

Those who don’t comply could face felony charges. 

The law was one of several moves by Texas to curb the flow of migrants into the state. Abbott has repeatedly accused the Biden administration of failing to enforce immigration laws amid record numbers of migrant entries and encounters at the southern border. 

Other measures taken by Texas authorities include the installation of barriers on the Rio Grande, leading to a separate legal fight with the federal government, and the bussing of thousands of migrants to Democratic-controlled cities across the country. 

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Abbott said he wasn’t worried about Thursday’s ruling.

“This was fully expected,” he wrote. “Texas has solid legal grounds to defend against an invasion.”

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