SCOTUS Extends Block on Texas Plan to Arrest Migrants

State law has been put on hold indefinitely
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2024 4:45 PM CST
Updated Mar 18, 2024 6:00 PM CDT
Texas Plan to Arrest Migrants Goes to US Supreme Court
Migrants wait to be processed by the US Customs and Border Patrol after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the US from Mexico on Oct. 19 in Eagle Pass, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
UPDATE Mar 18, 2024 6:00 PM CDT

The Supreme Court on Monday indefinitely extended its block on a Texas law that would give police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the US while the legal battle it sparked over immigration authority plays out. The one-page order signed by Justice Samuel Alito did not set a deadline, instead extending the stay "pending further order," the AP reports. Opponents have called the law the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since an Arizona law more than a decade ago, portions of which were struck down by the Supreme Court. A federal judge in Texas struck down the law in late February, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals quickly stayed that ruling, leading the federal government to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mar 4, 2024 4:45 PM CST

The US Supreme Court on Monday temporarily halted a new Texas law that allows police to arrest migrants who enter the country illegally and has set up another legal showdown over the federal government's authority over immigration. Hours after the Justice Department asked the justices to intervene, the court blocked the state law from taking effect until next week. The high court also requested a response from Texas by Monday. The Justice Department's emergency request came after a federal appeals court over the weekend stayed US District Judge David Ezra's sweeping rejection of the law, the AP reports.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who for months has escalated border measures that have tested the boundaries of how far a state can go keep migrants from entering the country, had signed the measure that was to become law Saturday. The Justice Department told the court the law would profoundly alter "the status quo that has existed between the United States and the States in the context of immigration for almost 150 years." It argued that the law would have "immediate adverse effects" on the country's relationship with Mexico and "create chaos" in enforcing federal immigration laws in Texas. The measure allows state officers to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally; those in custody then can agree to a Texas judge's order to leave the country or face a misdemeanor charge for entering the US illegally.

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In a 114-page ruling Thursday, per the AP, Ezra rebuked Texas' immigration enforcement and brushed off claims by Republicans about an "invasion" along the southern border. The judge said the law violates the US Constitution's supremacy clause, conflicts with federal immigration law, and could get in the way of US foreign relations and treaty obligations. According to Ezra's ruling, allowing Texas to supersede federal law would "amount to nullification of federal law and authority—a notion that is antithetical to the Constitution and has been unequivocally rejected by federal courts since the Civil War."

(More illegal immigration stories.)

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