Civil rights groups led by the ACLU and El Paso County filed a lawsuit against Texas on Tuesday challenging the new law signed by Gov. Greg Abbot that allows state and local police to arrest migrants and empowers local judges to order them to leave the U.S.
The lawsuit comes just one day after Abbott signed the law, known as Senate Bill 4, which is expected to take effect in March. The White House called the measure extreme and dehumanizing, and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his government would challenge the law.
Civil rights groups have called the law unconstitutional, saying only the federal government has the authority to enforce similar immigration laws. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similar Arizona law, saying the federal government has authority over immigration.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Austin, and the plaintiffs challenging the law are Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateways, and the County of El Paso. The civil rights groups are led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU).
“The bill overrides bedrock constitutional principles and flouts federal immigration law while harming Texans, in particular Brown and Black communities,” Adriana Piñon, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement.
The lawsuit was filed against the Texas Department of Public Safety Executive Director Co. Steve McCraw, because his troopers could arrest migrants, and against the El Paso County District Attorney, as his office could prosecute migrants at the border.
El Paso County District Attorney Bill Hicks said the lawsuit could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Some Republicans expect that the new majority on the court could change in favor of the Texas law.
“We also welcome a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the precedent set in the Arizona case,” Abbott said.
Democrats and the civil rights groups have said that the bill will profile Latino and Hispanic Texans.
“S.B. 4 creates a dangerous environment for the public by creating the potential for damaging profiling of individuals not deserving of this treatment by law enforcement,” said County Judge Ricardo Samaniego. “The ability to discern between residents, citizens, and migrants is very difficult in a community that is 80% Hispanic.”
On Tuesday, ACLU affiliates in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Texas, and San Diego issued travel advisories warning of potential violations of rights when traveling to Texas.