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S.B. 4 ‘risks putting the U.S. in breach of its international treaty obligations’

Media Contact

Damien Sharp

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas law S.B. 4 to take effect while legal challenges continue, a federal appeals court blocked the state from making it a state crime for migrants to illegally cross the border into Texas.

Ian Kysel, international migration law expert and Cornell Law School professor, says Texas’ actions here violate U.S. duties to other countries and put the U.S. at risk of breaching international treaty obligations.

Ian Kysel

Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

“Texas’ border gamesmanship has human consequences as well as legal ones. Entirely apart from the question of the federal government’s immigration authority is whether letting S.B. 4 go into effect risks putting the U.S. in breach of its international treaty obligations.

“Among other things, Texas law now allows the state to arrest, charge with improper entry or re-entry, and then order the removal of migrants seeking asylum – regardless of whether they have a well-founded fear of persecution or substantial grounds for believing that they are in danger of being subjected to torture. As a matter of international law, actions by one U.S. state can put the entire country in breach of a treaty.

“Texas’ actions here violate U.S. duties to scores of other countries, with which it agreed under the Refugee Convention and its Protocol and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to refrain from doing just that. Accountability for such violations is slow and hard to come by internationally. It will be individual human beings who risk harm in the interim.”

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