Federal Judge Blocks Extreme Anti-Immigrant Law, Texas Senate Bill 4 

In a significant victory for immigrant rights advocates, a federal court in Texas has issued a preliminary injunction blocking Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB 4, “one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws ever passed by any state legislature in the country” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas. This controversial law, championed by Gov. Greg Abbott, would have empowered state and local law enforcement to arrest and deport individuals suspected of illegal border crossings. It was slated to take effect on March 5.  

Plaintiffs – including the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), El Paso County, American Gateways, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center – argued SB 4 violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by infringing on the federal government’s exclusive authority over immigration. They also warned it would damage relations with Mexico, undermine asylum processes and protections, separate families, fuel racial profiling, and increase civil rights abuses in the Texas prison system.  

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge David Ezra, while acknowledging the risks posed by cartels and drug trafficking along the border, forcefully rejected Texas’ claim that high migrant arrival numbers constitute an invasion under Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. This provision grants states the right of self-defense against invasion but prohibits them from engaging in war “unless actually invaded.” He stated, “I haven’t seen, and the state of Texas can’t point me to any type of military invasion in Texas. I don’t see evidence that Texas is at war.” Ezra also ruled that arresting and deporting migrants who may be eligible for political asylum would violate both the Constitution and U.S. treaty obligations, undermining fundamental human rights protections.  

Judge Ezra emphasized that courts have historically upheld immigration enforcement as a purely federal domain and that disagreement with federal policy does not justify violating the Supremacy Clause. The injunction temporarily blocks SB 4 while the legal challenge proceeds. While advocates celebrate, Texas has appealed the decision to the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. This case highlights the ongoing battle over immigration policy and underscores the need for comprehensive reform at the federal level to create a system that is both just and aligned with constitutional principles.