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 March 28, 2024

Appellate court slams the breaks on Texas immigration law supported by the Supreme Court

A Texas law allowing police to arrest individuals suspected of illegally crossing the southern border with Mexico faced a setback from an appellate court on Tuesday night, following a late procedural order.

The U.S. Supreme Court had earlier ruled in favor of the law's enforcement amid an ongoing legal battle.

The legal battle

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ended an administrative stay on the eve of oral arguments related to the case challenging the law. The appellate court's action allowed a lower court's injunction against Senate Bill 4 to remain in place.

While the Supreme Court permitted SB 4 to take effect, it refrained from ruling on its constitutionality. The decision drew criticism from some Mexican officials and praise from Texas Republicans, who viewed it as a temporary victory.

The appellate court's subsequent order on Tuesday night marked a significant twist in the legal saga, following the Supreme Court's initial extension and subsequent reversal of a temporary block on SB 4.

Biden's challenge

The Biden administration has challenged SB 4, arguing that it violates federal immigration laws by empowering Texas police to enforce immigration law.

The case is pending in the Fifth Circuit, and the timeline for a ruling remains uncertain. Ultimately, the case is expected to be resolved in a federal court in Austin, where the lawsuits were initially filed.

In a peculiar procedural posture, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the appeals court deviated from proper procedure in its handling of SB 4. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, expressed reservations about intervening in the preliminary stage of litigation, highlighting the case's unusual circumstances.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, criticizing the court's decision for potentially exacerbating chaos in immigration enforcement.

Gov. Abbott responds

Governor Greg Abbott celebrated the appellate court's ruling, while immigrant rights advocacy groups expressed frustration with the Supreme Court's opinion.

The legal battle over SB 4 seeks to make illegally crossing the border a Class B misdemeanor, carrying a punishment of up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders could face a second-degree felony with a punishment of two to 20 years in prison.

The law requires state judges to order migrants returned to Mexico if they are convicted, with local law enforcement responsible for transporting migrants to the border. However, a judge could drop the charges if a migrant agrees to return to Mexico voluntarily.

The case comes amid a presidential election year where immigration has become a key issue, with both parties offering differing approaches to border security and immigration policy.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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