SCOTUS Says Texas Can Start Arresting Migrants

Divided court allows law to take effect while legal battle plays out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 19, 2024 2:03 PM CDT
SCOTUS Lifts Stay on Texas Plan to Arrest Migrants
The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2024.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted a stay on a Texas law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of crossing the US-Mexico border illegally while a legal battle over immigration authority plays out. The Biden administration is suing to strike down the measure, arguing it's a clear violation of federal authority that would hurt international relations and create chaos in administering immigration law, the AP reports. Texas has argued it has a right to take action over what Gov. Greg Abbott has described as an "invasion" of migrants on the border.

The law allows any police officer in Texas to arrest migrants for illegal entry. A judge could then order them to leave the US. Opponents have called the law, known as Senate Bill 4, 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. Critics have also said the Texas law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling. 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.

The majority did not write a detailed opinion in the case, as is typical in emergency appeals. But the decision to let the law go into effect drew dissents from liberal justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Two of the conservative justices, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, wrote a concurring opinion indicating the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals could block the measure again, and either side can return to the Supreme Court once the 5th Circuit acts. (More US-Mexico border stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.