03-27-2024, 1:10 PM

An appeals court in Texas puts on hold a controversial immigration law

A contentious Texas statute permitting state officials to apprehend and detain individuals suspected of illegally entering the country will remain suspended as legal battles unfold, according to a federal appeals court announcement on Tuesday.

By a 2-1 margin, the court ruled to uphold the suspension of the law, referred to as SB 4, while deliberating on its potential violation of the US Constitution. The court underscored that immigration enforcement primarily falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

This decision marks the culmination of a tumultuous period for SB 4, during which it was briefly allowed to take effect following a Supreme Court ruling, only to be swiftly suspended again by the appeals court panel.

Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham, nominated by former President Donald Trump, dissented, expressing concern over his colleagues' inclination to invalidate the law.

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

Enacted by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in December, SB 4 criminalizes illegal entry into Texas and empowers state judges to order deportation. US District Judge David Alan Ezra had previously halted the law in late February, citing concerns that it could pave the way for states to enact their own immigration laws.

Texas may pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court or request a review by the full 5th Circuit to temporarily enforce the law, but such avenues seem unlikely given the imminent hearing next week.

Opponents of SB 4 include the Biden administration, two immigrant advocacy groups, and El Paso County.

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