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Appeals court blocks Texas immigration law, hours after Supreme Court lets it take effect

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Associated Press/Photo by Patrick Semansky

Appeals court blocks Texas immigration law, hours after Supreme Court lets it take effect

A federal appeals court Tuesday night placed a temporary hold on a controversial immigration law, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to take effect. The high court returned a 6-3 ruling earlier on Tuesday, allowing Texas authorities to enforce the law while lower court proceedings challenging it continued to play out. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling briefly permitted state law enforcement to arrest suspected illegal immigrants for the time being. Justice Amy Coney Barrett penned the top court’s  majority opinion, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing that “I think it unwise to invite emergency litigation in this court about whether a court of appeals abused its discretion at this preliminary step.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor penned a dissent, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, arguing that the decision, “invites further chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement.” Justice Elena Kagan drafted a separate dissent, citing several legal cases to argue that immigration enforcement is under the federal government's responsibility. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated the ruling on social media, posting, “We still have to have hearings in the 5th circuit. ... But this is clearly a positive development.” The case is now waiting for a final ruling in a federal appeals court.

What’s the problem with Texas enforcing U.S. immigration law? Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law last December. The legislation combats what the governor described as President Joe Biden’s failure to enforce immigration law, with Abbott asserting that, “Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.” The U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against the state, alleging Texas officials violated the U.S. Constitution by illegally usurping federal powers. A federal judge in Texas previously barred the law from being enacted, arguing that the law infringes on the federal government’s constitutional powers.

Dig deeper: Read Addie Offereins’ report in WORLD Magazine on how Texas communities grapple with the rising migrant population.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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