SCOTUS Indefinitely Blocks Texas Law Allowing Police To Arrest Illegal Immigrants
EAGLE PASS, TEXAS - MARCH 12: National Guard soldiers patrol at the entrance to Shelby Park on March 12, 2024 in Eagle Pass, Texas. U.S. President Joe Biden's budget proposal includes a $4.7 billion emergency fund to enhance border operations in preparation for potential illegal migrant surges along the Southern border.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A Texas immigration law permitting state officials to arrest immigrants suspected of entering the United States illegally has been indefinitely blocked by the Supreme Court.

The nation’s highest court extended an administrative stay on the controversial state law on Monday while it considers an emergency appeal by the Biden administration, CNN reported. Senate Bill 4, signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in December, was initially blocked by a federal judge before a federal appeals court reversed the judge’s decision and allowed the law to go into effect. However, the Supreme Court stepped in earlier this month — first, delaying the law’s implementation and then extending the stay until March 18.

The Supreme Court’s latest move, which came from Justice Samuel Alito — who oversees cases that come from the appeals court — places a stay on the Texas law “pending further order” from the court, according to NBC News.

“SCOTUS temporarily halted enforcement of SB 4 but Texas is still using its authority to arrest illegal immigrants for criminal trespass and other violations of law,” Abbott said. “We continue building the wall, use [National Guard] to erect razor wire barriers to repel migrants & buoys remain in river.”

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 argued that the state law interfered with federal immigration law.

The ACLU also filed a lawsuit against Texas, arguing that the law was discriminatory and would target minorities. The Biden administration’s and ACLU’s lawsuits have since been combined. Opponents of the law argue that it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits states from interfering with the federal government using its constitutional powers.

The DOJ argued that “SB 4 impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce entry and removal provisions of federal law and interferes with its conduct of foreign relations.”

Proponents of the law, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, say that Texas has a constitutional right and duty to protect itself from “violent” cartels who traffick drugs and people across 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.

The Biden administration continues to face criticism over its handling of the border crisis as voters put immigration at the top of the list of issues they’re concerned about heading into the 2024 election. As he did in 2016, former President Donald Trump has focused his campaign on stopping illegal immigration and securing the border.

Since Biden took office, Border Patrol has reported around 9 million nationwide encounters, with 1.7 million estimated gotaways. Under the Trump administration, there were 415,000 total reported gotaways for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Spencer Lindquist contributed to this report. 

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