New Texas Immigration Law Just Got Reblocked

Federal appeals court extends its hold on controversial SCOTUS ruling
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2024 8:46 AM CDT
New Texas Immigration Law Just Got Reblocked
Migrants wait to be processed by US Customs and Border Patrol officials after crossing the Rio Grande and entering the US from Mexico on Oct. 19 in Eagle Pass, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Texas' controversial new immigration law—which, per a recent US Supreme Court thumbs-up, would allow state officials to arrest those they suspect of being in the US illegally, impose criminal penalties, and deport them—will remain on hold for a bit longer. Early Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to extend its March 19 block against Senate Bill 4, reports NBC News. "For nearly 150 years, the Supreme Court has held that the power to control immigration—the entry, admission, and removal of noncitizens—is exclusively a federal power," not a state one, Chief Judge Priscilla Richman wrote for the majority in the appeals court's ruling.

Richman, a Republican appointee, noted a case in Arizona in 2012 that nullified a similar law. Meaning, it's President Biden's job "to decide whether, and if so, how to pursue noncitizens illegally present in the United States," Richman added. The AP calls it "the latest move in a seesaw legal case," with opponents of SB4 arguing that it could lead to racial profiling and civil rights breaches. Advocates, meanwhile, say the law would mostly be used in border counties and that arresting officers would still need to have probable cause to detain anyone.

The Washington Post notes that Richman was joined in her decision by Biden appointee Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez, while Trump appointee Andrew Oldham penned a 71-page dissent. The latest ruling by his own court, Oldham wrote, "means the State is forever helpless: Texas can do nothing because Congress apparently did everything, yet federal non-enforcement means Congress' everything is nothing." The block will remain in place as complaints trying to overturn the law work their way through the courts. (More US-Mexico border stories.)

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