December 18, 2023

Congressman Castro Leads Texas Democrats, Hispanic Caucus Members Urging Justice Department to Block Texas “Show Me Your Papers” Law

Read the letter

SAN ANTONIO — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) will lead Texas Congressional Democrats and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue legal action to prevent the enforcement of Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), an unconstitutional and dangerous bill that would authorize state law enforcement and judicial authorities to obstruct federal immigration law. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign SB 4 into law later this afternoon and the letter will be sent shortly after.

This bill is set to be the most extreme anti-immigrant state bill in the United States; it is clearly preempted by federal law and when it goes into effect will likely result in racial profiling, significant due process violations, and unlawful arrests of citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others. In practice, this would place people with authorization to be in the United States, even United States citizens, at risk of being forced to leave Texas…The process of removing people from the United States is constitutionally a federal process and excluding federal authorities, including Department of Homeland Security agents trained in immigration law and federal judges trained to enforce it, will obstruct asylum cases, result in erroneous determinations, and put many people in danger. SB 4 is an unlawful attempt to engage in federal immigration enforcement. This law will also interfere with federal efforts to create a safe, humane, and orderly system at the border,” the lawmakers wrote.

Senate Bill 4 passed the Texas House and Senate in mid-November. Today’s signing ceremony was announced just two days after former president Donald Trump, echoing language used by Adolf Hitler, accused immigrants coming to the United States of “poisoning the blood of our country.” Governor Abbott endorsed Donald Trump’s approach to immigration during a visit to the border with the former president in late November.

In addition to Congressman Castro, the letter is signed by Texas Reps. Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Colin Allred (TX-32), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-34), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Al Green (TX-09), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Greg Casar (TX-35), and Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), as well as Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Luis Correa (CA-46), Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Norma Torres (CA-35), and Delia Ramirez (IL-03).

To read the full letter, click here.

Governor Abbott is also expected to sign Texas Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) into law during today’s bill signing. SB 3 will appropriate $1.54 billion to continue construction of a border wall along the Texas-Mexico border and for other state immigration enforcement efforts. The bill would allocate the funding to the Governor’s Trusteed Programs Fund, which can be used at the governor’s discretion, including for activities unrelated to the border wall. Critics have raised concerns that the funding allocated under SB 3 could function as a slush fund for projects unrelated to the original legislative intent.


Congressman Castro has been a longtime leader in successful efforts to secure federal intervention against xenophobic and counterproductive immigration measures pushed by Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Republican legislators. In October 2021, he led his congressional colleagues in a letter urging the Department of Justice to launch a federal investigation into Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star (OLS) border operation. Less than a year later, the Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation into OLS.

In 2022, Congressman Castro and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar led a letter urging the Treasury Department to investigate the possible misappropriation of coronavirus relief funds to fund Operation Lone Star. The Treasury Department opened the investigation that lawmakers requested less than a week later.

In July 2023, Congressman Castro led 80+ U.S. House Democrats, including all Democrats in the Texas congressional delegation and the chairs of the Congressional Hispanic, Black, and Asian-Pacific American caucuses, in a letter calling on the Biden administration to investigate Operation Lone Star and pursue legal action to address Governor Abbott’s obstruction of federal immigration enforcement and cruelty toward migrants. Shortly after lawmakers sent the letter, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to compel the state of Texas to remove buoy barriers placed in the Rio Grande River. In early December, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Texas to remove the barriers.

In August 2023, Congressman Castro led a congressional delegation to the border to investigate Operation Lone Star and speak with border community residents. Following the trip, he led a letter with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to request a federal investigation into new family separation policies instituted under Operation Lone Star. During the debate over the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, Congressman Castro and Congressman Greg Casar also introduced an amendment to block federal homeland security funding from being diverted to Operation Lone Star. The amendment received bipartisan support, including from all Democrats in the Texas congressional delegation.