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December 19, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith RE: Texas immigration law

CHICAGO, Dec. 19, 2023 — The American Bar Association is concerned that Texas Senate Bill 4, signed into law on Monday, could endanger the civil rights of people of color and immigrant residents in Texas. 

The law gives state law enforcement officers the authority to stop, arrest and detain anyone they suspect is in Texas without authorization and creates new state misdemeanor and felony crimes for illegal entry and re-entry into the state. These provisions of the law circumvent migrants’ access to legal protections under U.S. immigration law, including asylum.

This bill is similar to Arizona’s “Show Me Your Papers” law, much of which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 on the grounds that state governments are preempted by the federal government from developing immigration law or “supplementing” immigration enforcement.

The federal government must retain control of immigration law and policy and the role of states in immigration enforcement should continue to be subject to federal authorization and oversight.

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