Mar 20, 2024 - News

Texas immigration law blocked again from taking effect, for now

People walk in a line with fence wires to their right and a river to their left

People arrive at the Rio Grande near El Paso on March 4. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images

Texas' strict new immigration law giving state police the power to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the Mexico border was back on hold late last night, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court said it could take effect.

Why it matters: The law was challenged by the Justice Department over concerns that it encroached on the federal government's authority over immigration.

  • Immigration advocacy organizations have also said the law could lead to racial profiling.

The latest: The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Texas could immediately begin enforcing Senate Bill 4 until a federal appeals court heard legal challenges against it.

  • The ruling marked a major victory for Gov. Greg Abbott and his fellow Republicans, who have made the recent increase in illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border a central issue in the 2024 elections.
  • But, late last night, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the law from taking effect in a 2-1 order. The court is scheduled to hear challenges against the law today.

What they're saying: Abbott had called the Supreme Court decision a "positive development," while acknowledging that the case isn't fully settled.

Zoom in: Dallas police chief Eddie Garcia told Univision this week that his officers "won't pursue people, whether or not they have documents, who have not committed a crime."

How it works: The law makes it a state crime to illegally cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry and allows state police to arrest people if there's probable cause to believe they recently crossed the border.

  • Violators can be charged with a misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to six months in jail and could face felony charges and up to 20 years in prison for subsequent offenses.
  • The law also grants judges the power to order an undocumented person to return to Mexico.

What's next: Mexico will not accept repatriations from Texas, Roberto Velasco Álvarez of Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on X.

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