Mar 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court extends hold on Texas immigration law

Migrants arrive to the border after crossing the Rio Grande and crossing the new fence, cutting it with pliers, installed by the Texas National Guard Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on March 12, 2024. (Photo by Christian Torres/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Migrants arrive to the border after crossing the Rio Grande on March 12. Photo: Christian Torres/Anadolu via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended a temporarily hold on a Texas law that would allow local authorities and judges to arrest and deport immigrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S. border.

State of play: The order by conservative Justice Samuel Alito extends the freeze, which was due to expire Wednesday, until March 18.

  • Alito earlier this month halted a lower court's order to allow SB 4 to take affect so that the high court could make a determination.

The big picture: Civil rights groups and the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to stop the law from going into effect, arguing it's unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling.

  • Republican Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who had fiercely criticized the Biden administration over its handling of an influx of immigrants at the southern border, signed off on SB 4 in December.

Zoom in: The law makes it's a state misdemeanor to illegally cross the border and a second-degree felony for illegal re-entry. Punishments range from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison.

  • SB 4 also allows a judge to order an undocumented person "to return to the foreign nation from which they entered."

Go deeper: Judge rejects GOP attempt to block Biden's migrant "parole" program

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