Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Texas Law Allowing Police to Arrest Migrants

The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocks a Texas law that allows police to arrest migrants who enter the country illegally, setting up a legal showdown over federal government authority on immigration.

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily halted a new Texas law that allows police to arrest migrants who enter the country illegally, setting up a legal showdown over the federal government’s authority on immigration. The decision came after the Justice Department requested the high court’s intervention, arguing that the law would profoundly alter the relationship between the United States and the states in the context of immigration and have significant and immediate adverse effects on the country’s relationship with Mexico.

After a federal appeals court stayed a sweeping rejection of the law signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has been implementing escalating measures on the border to prevent migrants from entering the country, an emergency request followed. The law was scheduled to take effect on Saturday unless the Supreme Court intervened.

The Justice Department cited a 2012 Supreme Court ruling on an Arizona law that would have allowed police to arrest people for federal immigration violations, often referred to as the “show me your papers” bill, in its argument against the Texas law. The divided high court found that the impasse in Washington over immigration reform did not justify state intrusion.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office stated that the Texas law aligns with federal law and was implemented to tackle the ongoing crisis at the southern border, which disproportionately affects Texans. The law allows state officers to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally, with the option for migrants to agree to a Texas judge’s order to leave the country or face a misdemeanor charge for entering the U.S. illegally.

The battle over the Texas immigration law, known as Senate Bill 4, 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 Abbott’s efforts, saying the federal government is not doing enough to enforce existing immigration laws1.

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