Federal Judge Blocks Texas Border Security Law

AP Photo/Eric Gay

U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled today that Texas Senate Bill 4 violates the U.S. Constitution and prior Supreme Court rulings that put the federal government in charge of immigration laws and restrictions. Senate Bill 4 was scheduled to go into effect on March 5. 


The new law would allow local law officers to arrest and state judges to deport illegal aliens along the southern border. Lawyers for Texas argued that the law signed by Governor Abbott in December is a valid response to President Biden's dereliction of duty on the border. Abbott declared an invasion was taking place along the border that brought in authorized immigrants and criminal cartels.

If Joe Biden doesn't perform his top responsibility to secure the borders and protect the homeland, what is a border state governor to do? The longest part of the southern border is the Texas-Mexico border. Illegal immigrants have flooded the border for three years by the millions into Texas. Why is Texas expected to shoulder that burden? The Biden administration turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to requests for federal help for the exact reason the district judge cited - immigration is a federal responsibility. Is Governor Abbott supposed to sit back and let whatever happens happen to Texas? That is unacceptable.

Judge Ezra also rejected that the Biden border crisis has produced an invasion as described in the Constitution. He said Texas is not "engaging in war by enforcing SB 4." 

“To allow Texas to permanently supersede federal directives on the basis of 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 federal courts since the Civil War,” Ezra wrote in his order.


You can bet that Texas will appeal this ruling by asking the 5th Circuit of Appeals to overturn it. This will be the third immigration case involving Texas that awaits a decision in that court. It is based in New Orleans and considered to be conservative-leaning. It often rules in support of Governor Abbott.

SB 4 was passed in the Texas Legislature in November during a fourth special session. It passed largely along party lines. Texas Democrats don't seem to have a problem with the wide-open southern border. 

Judge Ezra, 77, is the senior Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. He was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1988. Chief Justice Roberts permanently designated Ezra to the Western District of Texas to help with that court's workload. He is reported to be an unaffiliated judge who does not belong to any political party.

In 2012, the Supreme Court, by a ruling of 5-3 said states can't pass laws that undermine federal law. That was a ruling on a similar law in Arizona. DOJ argues that Texas exceeds its authority when protecting its border. Governor Abbott and Texas AG Ken Paxton claim it is time to move past the Arizona ruling because Biden refuses to enforce immigration laws already on the books so Texas has to step in.

Judge Ezra disagreed with the Texas argument.

“The Court is sympathetic to Texas’s concerns at the border, but to say that the Biden Administration has ‘abandoned’ the field of immigration is to take hyperbolic criticism literally,” the judge wrote, pointing to numerous instances of federal enforcement, including an Immigration and Customs Enforcement docket of 6.8 million cases, including migrants in removal proceedings.


SB 4 created two new state crimes.

The law created two new state crimes for migrants who cross into Texas illegally – illegal entry from a foreign country, a Class B misdemeanor that carries a jail term of up to six months and a $2,000 fine, and illegal reentry into the state from a foreign country, a Class A misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for repeat offenders.

The penalty for both could escalate to felonies for migrants who had previously been convicted of certain crimes, including a prior felony conviction or two misdemeanor drug convictions.

The law also allowed state judges to issue deportation orders for migrants who agree to return to the foreign nation from which they entered Texas – presumably Mexico.

On we go. Another day, another legal ruling against Texas doing Joe Biden's job. If Joe Biden was smart, which he is not, he would meet with Governor Abbott and agree to support and protect Texas. He won't because that would mean he has failed in doing his job. He's been shamed into going to the border today. He is going to Brownsville, though, where illegal border crossing mostly doesn't even exist. The city residents will likely not be impressed with his visit. Brownsville is beginning a four-day weekend celebrating Charro Days. It is an annual pre-Lenten celebration held in cooperation with Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. If Biden was serious about border control, which he isn't, he would have gone to a more active spot. President Trump chose Eagle Pass for his visit.


The governor isn't surprised about the ruling.

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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024