CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Supreme Court allows Texas to begin enforcing controversial immigration law

Mar 19, 2024, 12:23 PM | Updated: 5:35 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

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Originally Published: 19 MAR 24 14:16 ET
Updated: 19 MAR 24 14:54 ET

(CNN) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for Texas to immediately begin enforcing a controversial immigration law that allows state officials to arrest and detain people they suspect of entering the country illegally.

The court’s three liberals dissented.

Legal challenges to the law are ongoing at a federal appeals court, but the decision hands a significant – yet temporary – win to Texas, which has been in an ongoing battle with the Biden administration over immigration policy.

The court had been blocking the law from taking effect, issuing an indefinite stay on Monday, which was wiped away by Tuesday’s order.

Senate Bill 4, signed into law by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in December, immediately raised concerns among immigration advocates of increased racial profiling as well as detentions and attempted deportations by state authorities in Texas, where Latinos represent 40% of the population.

As is often the case in emergency applications, the court did not explain its reasoning.

However, a concurring opinion written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, explained that the appeals court had only handed down a temporary “administrative” order.

“So far as I know, this court has never reviewed the deci­sion of a court of appeals to enter – or not enter – an administrative stay,” Barrett wrote. “I would not get into the business. When en­tered, an administrative stay is supposed to be a short-lived prelude to the main event: a ruling on the motion for a stay pending appeal.”

Barrett said she thought it was “unwise to invite emergency liti­gation in this court about whether a court of appeals abused its discretion at this preliminary step.”

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the order “invites further chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement.”

The law, Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, “upends the federal-state balance of power that has existed for over a century, in which the National Government has had exclusive authority over entry and removal of noncitizens.”

“Texas can now immediately enforce its own law imposing criminal liability on thousands of noncitizens and requiring their removal to Mexico,” Sotomayor wrote. “This law will disrupt sensitive foreign relations, frustrate the protection of indi­viduals fleeing persecution, hamper active federal enforce­ment efforts, undermine federal agencies’ ability to detect and monitor imminent security threats, and deter nonciti­zens from reporting abuse or trafficking.”

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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Supreme Court allows Texas to begin enforcing controversial immigration law