Media Contact

Kristi Gross, ACLU of Texas, [email protected]
Gabby Arias, ACLU National, [email protected]
Ivonne Rodriguez, Las Americas IAC, [email protected]
Oliver Bernstein, American Gateways, [email protected]
Savannah Tarbet, Texas Civil Rights Project, [email protected]
Elhiu Dominguez, El Paso County Attorney’s Office, [email protected]

February 29, 2024

AUSTIN, Texas – The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas today granted a motion for preliminary injunction to block Texas Senate Bill 4 (88-4), which would permit local and state law enforcement to arrest, detain, and remove people they suspect to have entered Texas from another country without federal authorization. The legislation is one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws ever passed by any state legislature in the country.

A lawsuit from civil rights groups argues that S.B. 4 violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and is preempted by federal law, as Texas judges would be required to order a person’s deportation regardless of whether a person is eligible to seek asylum or other humanitarian protections under federal law. Advocates have warned that the law will separate families and directly lead to racial profiling, subjecting thousands of Black and Brown Texans to the state prison system, which is rife with civil rights abuses.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2023 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, and the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of El Paso County, American Gateways, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. It was subsequently consolidated with a lawsuit by the Department of Justice.

The court’s decision will temporarily block the law from going into effect as the case is litigated. Without an injunction, the law would have gone into effect on March 5, 2024. This ruling is likely to be appealed by the state.

The following reactions are from the plaintiffs:

Jennifer Babaie (she/her), director of advocacy and legal services with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, said: “With today’s decision, the court sent a clear message to Texas: S.B. 4 is unconstitutional and criminalizing Black, Brown, Indigenous, and immigrant communities will not be tolerated. This crucial decision allows us to continue to focus our efforts on building a safe, legal, humane immigration system not contingent on abuses like racial profiling and harassment. We must continue to be vigilant against Texas' politics of fear and hatred. But today, immigrants and Texans of color get to pursue living lives of hope, opportunity, and family. It's a win worth celebrating.”

Edna Yang (she/her), co-executive director of American Gateways, said: “This decision is a victory for all our communities as it stops a harmful, unconstitutional, and discriminatory state policy from taking effect and impacting the lives of millions of Texans. Local officials should not be federal immigration agents, and our state should not be creating its own laws that deny people their right to seek protection here in the U.S. While we are thankful for this court decision, we know that too many people fleeing persecution are being denied their legal rights to make their case and seek political asylum. The only way to fix our broken immigration system is through federal congressional action, not individual state action.”

Iliana Holguin, El Paso County commissioner Precinct 3, said: “El Paso County applauds the court’s clear confirmation today that immigration policies rest solely under Federal jurisdiction, and the state of Texas’ interference with the U.S. Constitution will not be tolerated. A piecemeal approach from individual states on federal matters such as immigration enforcement would put an undue burden on local taxpayers, while opening the door to potential civil rights violations for border residents and immigrants alike.”

The following reactions are from the legal team:

David Donatti (he/him), senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said: “The court’s decision to block this anti-immigrant law from taking effect is an important win for Texas values, human rights, and the U.S. Constitution. Our current immigration system needs repair because it forces millions of Americans into the shadows and shuts the door on people in need of safety. S.B. 4 would only make things worse. Cruelty to migrants is not a policy solution.”

Anand Balakrishnan (he/him), senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “The federal court’s decision confirms over a century of Supreme Court precedent, affirming that immigration enforcement is squarely within the federal government’s authority. S.B. 4 is a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to bypass federal law. We applaud the court’s decision, but we must ensure this harmful law is struck down altogether.”

Aron Thorn (he/him), senior attorney, Beyond Borders Program at Texas Civil Rights Project, said: “We celebrate today’s win, blocking this extreme law from going into effect before it has the opportunity to harm Texas communities. This is a major step in showing the State of Texas and Governor Abbott that they do not have the power to enforce unconstitutional, state-run immigration policies. While this is only the first step in abolishing the law, people across the state can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will not be needlessly arrested or deported by Texas under S.B. 4.”

Access the preliminary injunction here:

Access “Know Your Rights” under S.B. 4 materials in English here:

Access “Know Your Rights” under S.B. 4 materials in Spanish here: