Federal Appeals Court Halts Controversial Texas Border Law

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Written By Vikas Jangid

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Federal Appeals Court Halts Texas Border Law Allowing Arrests of Suspected Border Crossers

Late on Tuesday night, a federal appeals court intervened to halt a controversial state law in Texas, which had granted police the authority to arrest individuals suspected of illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border.

This decision came mere hours after the U.S. Supreme Court had initially given the green light for the Texas Border Law to take effect.

Supreme Court’s Back-and-Forth on Senate Bill 4

Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had allowed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) to be enforced, pending a final decision on its constitutionality, which had been disputed by the Biden administration. However, the Supreme Court later sent the case back to the appeals court, urging a swift ruling. Subsequently, the appeals court promptly scheduled a hearing for Wednesday morning.

Yet, on the eve of the hearing, the appeals court issued an order to uphold a lower court's injunction against SB 4. Legal expert Steve Vladeck criticized the rapid back-and-forth legal maneuvers, denouncing the chaotic and detrimental nature of the proceedings.

Source: Scripps News 

SB 4’s Controversial Provisions

SB 4 aimed to classify illegal border crossing as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, with repeat offenders facing a second-degree felony carrying a sentence of two to 20 years in prison.

Additionally, the law mandated that state judges order convicted migrants to be returned to Mexico, with local law enforcement responsible for transportation. However, judges retained the discretion to drop charges if migrants agreed to return to Mexico voluntarily.

Mixed Reactions and Ongoing Legal Battles

The Supreme Court's decision sparked varied reactions, with swift criticism from some Mexican officials, applause from Texas Republicans celebrating what they saw as a temporary victory, and concern from immigrant rights advocates.

The Biden administration and immigrant rights groups swiftly filed lawsuits against Texas, arguing that SB 4 infringes upon federal immigration laws, a domain within the federal government's jurisdiction.

Legal History and Consolidation of Lawsuits

In February, U.S. District Judge David Ezra halted SB 4, arguing that it undermined the principle of uniform immigration regulation in the United States. However, Attorney General Ken Paxton's office successfully appealed this decision to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, leading to Ezra's ruling being overturned.

The Biden administration subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, resulting in the temporary suspension of SB 4 until March 18.

Growing Legal Challenges and Advocacy Efforts

Various legal challenges against SB 4 have emerged, including lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Texas, and the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of El Paso County and immigrant rights organizations.

These lawsuits were later consolidated, with additional legal actions filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and advocacy groups such as the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center.

The legal battle surrounding SB 4 continues to unfold amidst significant controversy and scrutiny, highlighting the complexities and tensions surrounding immigration policy in the United States.

As stakeholders on all sides navigate this contentious issue, the fate of SB 4 and its implications remain uncertain, shaping the broader landscape of immigration law and policy.

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