AUSTIN, Texas — A clash between the Justice Department and the state of Texas over new immigration legislation may end up in the hands of the Supreme Court. The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas, sparking a heated legal battle that could ultimately determine the fate of the state’s controversial immigration laws, which are scheduled to go into effect in March.
Texas argues that its new immigration powers, outlined in Senate Bill 4, are necessary because the federal government has failed to adequately enforce immigration laws along the southern border. However, the Department of Justice contends that Texas does not have the authority to supersede federal immigration policies, regardless of its justification.
Constitutional lawyer Renea Hicks highlights the core question at stake: whether Texas has the power to override federal immigration laws. She explains that the next step in the legal process will likely involve the request for a preliminary injunction, which would temporarily halt the implementation of the law while the case is being heard.
Hicks believes that both the United States government and private plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, could have a joint hearing on the case. If an injunction is granted by the court, Texas can ask the Fifth Circuit of Appeals to stay the decision. Ultimately, any party can make an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, which could expedite the process given the impending March deadline for the law to take effect.
However, it’s important to note that the process so far does not constitute a final ruling from higher courts on the substance of the legal challenge—this typically requires a ruling from the district court first. As a result, the Supreme Court, if it chooses to hear the case, may not make a final decision for another one or two years.
In addition to the legal battle itself, the cost of this prolonged fight is also cause for concern. Both the Department of Justice and the state of Texas are funded by taxpayer dollars, making the financial implications significant.
The clash between the Justice Department and Texas over immigration policies is just one of several legal battles the state has taken on. As the legal process unfolds, the true price tag of these disputes will become clearer.