The Justice Department threatened to sue Texas if the state enforces a new law empowering local officials to arrest migrants who enter illegally, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton told Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that the law is unconstitutional because the federal government is responsible for controlling international borders, according to the letter obtained by Hearst Newspapers. The Justice Department will “pursue all appropriate legal remedies” if Abbott declines to halt enforcement of the law by Jan. 3, the Chronicle reported.

Abbott signed the bill into law, along with other border security legislation, on Dec. 18.


“President [Joe] Biden has repeatedly refused to enforce federal immigration laws already on the books and do his job to secure the border,” Abbott previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In his absence, Texas has the constitutional authority to secure our border through historic laws like SB 4. Texas will take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to protect Texans from President Biden’s dangerous open-border policies.

The Justice Department’s letter cites a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that found Arizona’s state immigration laws, including one that made it a crime to be in the state without authorization, were preempted by federal law, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“Indeed, the Supreme Court has confirmed that ‘the removal process’ must be ‘entrusted to the discretion of the Federal Government’ because a ‘decision on removability’ touches ‘on foreign relations and must be made with one voice,’” the letter states, per the newspaper.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Texas the day after Abbott signed the law, arguing in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateways, and the County of El Paso, Texas, that the law oversteps federal authority.

Chuck DeVore, chief national initiatives officer at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in November that the measures in Texas’ bill are “fundamentally different” than the ones in the Arizona law that the Supreme Court struck down. Texas’ law offers those crossing illegally the choice of returning to Mexico or facing the threat of arrest for being in the state illegally, while Arizona’s law was “essentially affirmatively enforcing federal immigration law insofar as asking people for their status and then acting upon that,” he said.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.