CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

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

Mar 18, 2024, 3:56 PM | Updated: 4:29 pm

L - People leave the U.S. Supreme Court on February 21, 2024. 
R - Immigrants walk handcuffed after...

L - People leave the U.S. Supreme Court on February 21, 2024. R - Immigrants walk handcuffed after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and being caught by the U.S. Border Patrol on December 7, 2015 (L-Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images, R- John Moore/Getty Images

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

The one-page order signed by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito did not set a deadline.  Instead it extended the stay “pending further order.”

 

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 that law were struck down by the Supreme Court.

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

‘Usurping core federal authority’

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. That lead 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. The crux is 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. They agree that 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, as immigration emerges as a central issue in the 2024 election.

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