Controversial Texas immigration law may take effect as federal appeals court grants permission, pending intervention from SCOTUS

The enforcement of a controversial Texas immigration law has been temporarily allowed to proceed, thanks to a federal appeals court granting a stay on a lower court’s decision. This means that unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the law will go into effect this week.

A federal judge in Austin, Texas, issued a ruling last week that halted the implementation of Senate Bill 4. This bill would have granted state law enforcement the power to apprehend and detain individuals they believe to have entered the country unlawfully.

In his decision on Thursday, Judge David Alan Ezra expressed concern that if SB 4 were allowed to go into effect, it could set a precedent for other states to pass their own immigration laws.

Texas has appealed the ruling, and Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has stated that they will not back down in their efforts to protect the state and the nation from President Biden’s border crisis.

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily halted Ezra’s decision, granting a stay over the weekend. However, the ruling will be on hold for seven days, providing an opportunity for the Biden administration to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The law will be blocked until March 9, unless the Supreme Court decides to keep it on hold. Initially, it was scheduled to take effect on March 5.

When Governor Abbott signed the law into effect in December, it immediately sparked concerns among immigration advocates. They worried that the law would lead to an increase in racial profiling and result in more detentions and attempted deportations by state authorities in Texas. This is particularly troubling considering that Latinos make up 40% of the state’s population.

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El Paso County, a participant in the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Texas, has asserted that the implementation of SB 4 would burden its jail system with a significant influx of new arrests. The county welcomed Judge Ezra’s recent ruling to halt the enforcement of the law, as it will alleviate the strain on their facilities.

In a statement following Ezra’s decision last week, White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández criticized the law, describing it as “harmful and unconstitutional.”

Texas, on the other hand, argues that SB 4 does not conflict with federal law and asserts that the state has the right to protect itself from an invasion.

In 2012, the Supreme Court invalidated a comparable law in Arizona known as the “Show me your papers” law. The court determined that the federal government had the authority to override the law, but upheld a contentious provision that permits law enforcement to verify an individual’s immigration status if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country unlawfully.

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