Federal Judge Says There Will Be Real ‘Consequences’ After Texas Blocked Again From Enforcing Immigration Law
EAGLE PASS, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 30: As seen from an aerial view, a U.S. Border Patrol agent supervises as immigrants walk into the United States after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on September 30, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. The agent had cut coils of razor wire to let them pass through for processing. Immigration and border security have become major issues in ongoing negotiations to fund the U.S. government. A recent surge in immigrant crossings has overwhelmed border authorities.
Credit: Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday extended a block of a Texas law that would allow state authorities to arrest and deport immigrants suspected of entering the U.S. illegally, prompting a stern dissent from the court’s lone dissenter.

The 2-1 decision from a panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals comes after a month of legal back and forth on the law, also known as SB 4. The majority opinion said that Texas would not likely succeed in its argument that the law was constitutional and necessary because the federal government has historically had exclusive control over immigration law. 

“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,” Judge Priscilla Richman, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote. “Texas has not shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits …”

Judge Irma Ramirez, an appointee of President Joe Biden, signed onto Richman’s decision, while Judge Andrew Oldham, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, dissented. Oldman said that the majority’s ruling would harm Texas, making the state “forever helpless.”

“Texas can do nothing because Congress apparently did everything, yet federal non-enforcement means Congress’s everything is nothing. And second, while the dispute before us is entirely hypothetical, the consequences of today’s decision will be very real,” Oldham said. 

The law, which was set to take effect on March 5, was blocked by a federal judge on February 29. After an appeal by Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said that the law could take effect while the case made its way through the courts and put a hold on its ruling for seven days to allow time for the Biden administration to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court extended the hold on SB 4 multiple times before rejecting an emergency appeal from the Biden administration to block the law while it made its way through the lower courts. Just hours after the Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect, the Fifth Circuit placed another hold on the law, which it extended on Tuesday. 


Oldham’s dissent said that the Biden administration had no standing to sue Texas and that it would harm the state’s right to self-government. 

“Many people will be understandably frustrated by today’s ruling,” Oldham wrote. “A high-profile state statute — duly enacted by the people’s representatives to address a problem that Texans personally experience — likely will never go into effect. Why? Because a federal district judge enjoined the law in its entirety before anyone ever used it to do anything. And because today’s majority opinion does not let state officials and state judges attempt to implement the state law passed by the state legislature and signed by the Texas Governor.”

Oldham also wrote that the crisis at the southern border was in part due to the Biden administration’s decision to release more than 3 million illegal immigrants into the country. He said that the ruling would result in Texas being unable to deal with the crisis, which he attributed, in part, to the federal government’s actions. 


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