National Guard Troops in Texas
National Guard soldiers roll up fencing on the banks of the Rio Grande river at Shelby Park on January 12, 2024 in Eagle Pass, Texas GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP

A federal judge has blocked SB4, a law that enables Texas police to arrest migrants suspected of being in the United States without authorization.

David Ezra, a federal judge serving in the District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, issued a preliminary injunction just days before Senate Bill 4, which includes several measures proposed by the Texas government and approved by local legislators, was set to take effect.

SB4, Ezra said in his verdict, "threatens the fundamental notion that the United States should regulate immigration with one voice."

SB4, which passed last year and was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in December, was supposed to take effect on March 5. However, with Ezra's injunction, it has been blocked for the time being.

Ezra's determination comes amid a debate between Democrats and Republicans regarding the handling of immigration policies by the Trump and Biden administrations.

With SB4, the Texas government intends to provide law enforcement officials with the ability to identify, apprehend, and prosecute people on the mere suspicion that they entered the country without authorization. In addition, it classifies these illegal crossings as a Class B misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail.

SB4 has sparked an intense court fight between the Biden administration and Texas, centered on the premise that a state does not have the authority to implement federal laws, especially those pertaining to border entry control.

This month, the Department of Justice claimed that SB4 is unconstitutional as multiple judges and courts have determined that the immigration issue falls solely within the authority of the federal government.

In his verdict, Judge Ezra stated that, while sympathetic to Abbott's stance on border security, he cannot ignore precedent regarding the enforcement of immigration laws.

"The Supremacy Clause and Supreme Court precedents affirm that states may not exercise immigration enforcement power except as authorized by the federal government," said Ezra, who noted that SB4 conflicts with key provisions of federal immigration law, affecting U.S. foreign relations and immigration treaty obligations.

Judge Ezra's injunction was issued on the same day that both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are visiting the U.S.-Mexico border to talk about immigration as part of their 2024 respective campaigns.

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