April 22nd, 2024

Supreme Court extends block on Texas law that would allow police to arrest migrants

By Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press on March 18, 2024.

FILE - Migrants are taken into custody by officials at the Texas-Mexico border, Jan. 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. The Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 extended a stay on a new Texas law that would empower police to arrest migrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The order puts the law on hold until at least Monday while the high court considers a challenge by the Justice Department, which has called the law an unconstitutional overreach. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Monday extended its block on a Texas law that would give police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S. while the legal battle it sparked over immigration authority plays out.

Opponents have called the law, known as Senate Bill 4, the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since an Arizona law more than a decade ago, portions of which were struck down by the Supreme Court.

The Texas Attorney General has said the state’s law mirrored federal law and “was adopted to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border, which hurts Texans more than anyone else.”

The Biden administration sued to strike down the measure, arguing it would usurp core federal authority on immigration, hurt international relations and create chaos in administering immigration law. Civil rights groups have argued the law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling.

A federal judge in Texas struck down the law in late February, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals quickly stayed that ruling, leading the federal government to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in 2012 struck down key parts of an Arizona law that would have allowed police to arrest people for federal immigration violations, often referred to by opponents as the “show me your papers” bill. The divided high court found then that the impasse in Washington over immigration reform did not justify state intrusion.

The battle over the Texas immigration law is one of multiple legal disputes between Texas officials and the Biden administration over how far the state can go to patrol the Texas-Mexico border and prevent illegal border crossings.

Several Republican governors have backed Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts, saying the federal government is not doing enough to enforce existing immigration laws.

The case is unfolding as record numbers of asylum seekers arrive in the United States and immigration emerges as a central issue in the 2024 election.

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