Federal Appeals Court Places Texas Immigration Law On Hold Again After SCOTUS Allowed It To Take Effect
EAGLE PASS, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 03: An aerial view shows an immigrant group trying to cross the Texan border despite heightened security measures in Eagle Pass, Texas on February 03, 2024. Border Patrol moved migrants away from the Eagle Pass border of US-Mexico as a precautionary measure.
Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images

The legal drama between Texas and the Biden administration continues after a federal appeals court ordered a pause in the state’s law that allows authorities to arrest and deport immigrants suspected of crossing the southern border illegally. The appeals court’s hold on the law came just hours after the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed it to take effect as litigation continues.

In a 2-1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order that stops Texas Senate Bill 4 from going into effect as the court hears the case brought by the Biden administration, along with the ACLU and other groups, that oppose the immigration law, Fox News reported. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the case on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority rejected the Biden administration’s emergency request for a stay on the Texas law while litigation continues in the 5th circuit, while the high court’s three liberal justices dissented. Tuesday’s ruling from the Supreme Court was not on the merits of the case, meaning the order was not the final say in whether Texas can enforce its immigration law. The Supreme Court majority did not provide the reasoning behind its decision to allow the law to go into effect, as is the case with most emergency applications.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said the nation’s highest court could rule on the case’s merits in the future.

“Before this Court intervenes on the emergency docket, the Fifth Circuit should be the first mover,” Barrett wrote, adding, “So far as I know, this Court has never reviewed the decision of a court of appeals to enter — or not enter — an administrative stay. I would not get into the business. When entered, an administrative stay is supposed to be a short-lived prelude to the main event: a ruling on the motion for a stay pending appeal.”

SB 4 allows state officials to arrest and jail immigrants suspected of entering the U.S. unlawfully and also grants state judges the power to order deportations. The law drew harsh criticism from the Biden administration, which cited the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, arguing that the Texas law interferes with federal immigration law.

Writing a dissent to the Supreme Court’s majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed with the Biden administration and warned of the consequences she believes will come from allowing the law to be enforced.

“The court gives a green light to a law that will upend the longstanding federal-state balance of power and sow chaos,” she wrote.


“Texas passed a law that directly regulates the entry and removal of noncitizens and explicitly instructs its state courts to disregard any ongoing federal immigration proceedings,” Sotomayor added. “That law upends the federal state balance of power that has existed for over a century, in which the National Government has had exclusive authority over entry and removal of noncitizens.”

Proponents of SB 4, such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott and state Attorney General Ken Paxton, argue that the state has a constitutional right and duty to protect itself from what they view as an invasion at the U.S. southern border.

“[The] Constitution recognizes that Texas has the sovereign right to defend itself from violent transnational cartels that flood the State with fentanyl, weapons, and all manner of brutality,” Paxton said.

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