ACLU files lawsuit challenging new Texas law that authorizes police to arrest migrants

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the County of El Paso and advocacy groups Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and American Gateways. It names Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Bill Hicks, a district attorney for the 34th District of Texas, as defendants.

By creating new state crimes, including one of “illegal entry,” SB 4 allows local and state law enforcement officials to arrest migrants suspected of crossing into the state illegally from Mexico and allows judges to direct migrants to be transported to ports of entry and ordered to return to Mexico, regardless of nationality. The state crime carries a penalty of up to six months in jail for first offenses and up to 20 years for repeat offenders.

The law is the latest attempt by Abbott, a hardline Republican opponent of the Biden administration’s immigration polices, to enact and enforce immigration laws.

“President Biden has repeatedly refused to enforce federal immigration laws already on the books and do his job to secure the border,” Abbott said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed Tuesday. “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.”

Representatives for McGraw and Hicks did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

“The goal of Senate Bill 4 is to stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas,” Abbot said at a signing ceremony Monday set up against the backdrop of the border wall in Brownsville, Texas.

For months, immigration advocates have claimed that the new law could cause widespread racial profiling and the imprisonment of migrants who may have crossed into the country in between ports of entry, but have the legal right to stay while their asylum claims are processed.

The law does not allocate funding or mandate training for law enforcement officials who will now be tasked with enforcing immigration law. Immigrant rights advocates have said this would leave the fate of a migrant’s path to asylum in the hands of untrained officers.