Supreme Court allows Texas to enforce law that allows state police to arrest illegal immigrants

 March 19, 2024

The Supreme Court will allow Texas to enforce a law that lets state police arrest illegal immigrants while litigation in the case continues. 

The ruling was handed down Tuesday, just one day after justice Samuel Alito extended a pause on the law, leaving conservatives puzzled.

Alito had ruled that the law was paused “pending further order” by the court.

The nation didn't have to wait long, as the court ruled next day that the law could take effect. The Supreme Court did not uphold the law on the merits, but instead rejected a request from President Biden to overturn an appeals court order allowing Texas to enforce the law temporarily.

Supreme Court hands Texas victory

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton (R) applauded the ruling on X.

“As always, it’s my honor to defend Texas and its sovereignty, and to lead us to victory in court,” Paxton said.

The law was signed by Governor Greg Abbott (R) last year and was originally set to take effect March 5, but a federal judge blocked it. An appeals court then issued an "administrative" pause, allowing Texas to temporarily enforce the law, which led the Biden administration to seek intervention from the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration has accused Texas of overstepping the federal government's authority on immigration, but the state's Republican leaders say the federal government has ignored its duty to protect the border, forcing Texas to take matters into its own hands.

The Supreme Court didn't address the merits of the case, but conservatives Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh suggested it would be reckless to second-guess the Fifth Circuit's "stay" order.

White House fumes

The Supreme Court's three liberal justices wrote fiery dissents accusing the court of sowing "chaos" by upholding an "unconstitutional" law.

SB4 mirrors an Arizona law enacted in 2010, SB 1070, that deputized state police to stop suspected illegal immigrants. That law was struck down by the Supreme Court, although the court has moved rightward since then.

The border crisis has become a defining issue for the 2024 election cycle, leading Biden to blame Republicans for refusing to negotiate on immigration reform. The Supreme Court earlier this year temporarily permitted the Biden administration to remove razor wire that Texas installed at the border, which has been overwhelmed by record numbers of illegal migrants.

The White House blasted the Supreme Court's latest immigration order Tuesday, arguing SB4 represented Republicans "politicizing" the issue.

“S.B. 4 will not only make communities in Texas less safe, it will also burden law enforcement, and sow chaos and confusion at our southern border,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “S.B. 4 is just another example of Republican officials politicizing the border while blocking real solutions.”

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