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Mexico warns US court of ‘substantial tension’ if controversial Texas immigration law takes effect

Mexico is warning a federal US court that if its judges permit a controversial Texas immigration law to take effect, the two nations would experience “substantial tension” that would have far-reaching consequences for US-Mexico relations.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Thursday with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for Mexico said relations with the US would be strained.

“Enforcement of SB 4 would inappropriately burden the uniform and predictable sovereign-to-sovereign relations between Mexico and the United States, by criminalizing the unauthorized entry of noncitizens into Texas from outside the county and creating diverging removal requirements between and among individual states and the national government,” they wrote in the brief.

“Enforcement of SB 4 would also interfere with Mexico’s right to determine its own policies regarding entry into its territory, undermine U.S.-Mexico collaboration on a legal migration framework and border management, and hinder U.S.-Mexico trade,” the attorneys told the court.

Signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in December, the law makes entering Texas illegally a state crime and allows state judges to order immigrants to be deported. US immigration enforcement, generally, is a function of the federal government.

The 5th Circuit is currently considering whether to allow Texas to enforce Senate Bill 4 while it weighs the larger question of whether the law violates the US Constitution. A three-judge panel at the appeals court put the law back on hold late Tuesday after the Supreme Court cleared the way for it to go into effect for a short period earlier that day.

Briefs like the one filed by Mexico, which is technically called an amicus brief, are submitted by non-parties to offer a court expertise and information on a pending case. The decision to allow for amicus briefs comes under a court’s discretion. Some amici might file their briefs in support of a particular party or in support of neither party.

Mexico said it was backing the law’s challengers, which include the Biden administration. Its attorneys argued in Thursday’s brief that the law – if allowed to take effect – “will be applied in a discriminatory manner.”

Mexico’s 11 consulates in Texas have been ordered to provide protection and guidance and have made legal support available for any Mexican nationals across the state who “starts to have a problem,” under the new law, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena said earlier Thursday.

“This law is deeply unconstitutional,” Barcena said, arguing that immigration issues in the US are under federal jurisdiction, just like in Mexico.

“So, we are not going to allow any action by the state of Texas, neither the authorities, nor the police, nor anyone who acts on immigration matters at a state level, at the county level, this is a federal matter and for us too. So we are there,” the minister said.

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