Federal appeals court allows controversial Texas immigration law

  • SB 4 empowers Texas law enforcement to arrest undocumented immigrants
  • A Texas judge blocked the law on Thursday
  • The law remains blocked until March 9, then it will go into effect

A guardsman walks over rail cars with concertina wire along the Texas-Mexico border, Jan. 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(NewsNation) — A federal appeals court has allowed the Texas Immigration law — Senate Bill 4 — to take effect Monday, allowing the state’s law enforcement to arrest people for illegally crossing into the United States if the Supreme Court doesn’t intervene.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of a lower court’s decision to block the law, which would give police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S.

“BREAKING HUGE NEWS Federal appeals court allows Texas immigration law to take effect. Law enforcement officers in Texas are now authorized to arrest & jail any illegal immigrants crossing the border,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

The 5th Circuit said it would stay its decision for seven days to give the federal government a chance to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which the Department of Justice did on Monday.

If SCOTUS does not intervene, the law remains blocked until March 9, Texas Department of Public Safety sources tell NewsNation.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra paused the law last Thursday, rebuking the Texas immigration enforcement effort on multiple fronts and brushing off claims by Republicans about an ongoing “invasion” along the southern border due to record-high illegal crossings.

Ezra also said the law violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, conflicts with federal immigration law, and could hamper U.S. foreign relations and treaty obligations.

Abbott signed the bill back in December. The bill gives local judges the authority to order migrants to leave the country, testing the limits of how far a state can go to enforce immigration laws. The law was originally supposed to take effect on March 5.

“These laws will help stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas,” Abbott said in his statement.

Opponents have called SB 4 the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since a 2010 Arizona law — denounced by critics as the “Show Me Your Papers” bill — that was largely struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Efforts will likely escalate to the Supreme Court, but Abbott said he’s ready for the challenges.

NewsNation’s Jacqueline Hughes, Ali Bradley, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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