Supreme Court Allows Texas Law Allowing Arrest of Migrants: Impact and Implications


 Migrants next to the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas. John Moore/Getty Images 

The Supreme Court has permitted Texas to enforce a controversial new law empowering local police to arrest migrants, a move supported by the conservative majority. This decision, with three liberal justices in dissent, comes despite an emergency request by the Biden administration. The administration argued that immigration falls solely under federal jurisdiction, making state legislation on the matter invalid.

Known as SB4, the law authorizes police to arrest migrants who illegally cross from Mexico and imposes criminal penalties. It also grants state judges the power to order deportation to Mexico. The law's enforcement is a point of contention in the ongoing legal battle between the Biden administration and Texas over immigration policy along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Initially blocked by a federal judge following a lawsuit by the Biden administration, the law was allowed to proceed by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This decision prompted the administration's appeal to the Supreme Court.

Justice Samuel Alito temporarily halted the law on March 4 to allow the Supreme Court to consider the case. However, the Court ultimately decided not to intervene, allowing the law to take effect while litigation continues in lower courts.

The Biden administration, in its argument against the law, cited Supreme Court precedent dating back a century, emphasizing that the regulation of noncitizen admission and removal is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. The administration criticized the appeals court for failing to provide a clear rationale for allowing the law to proceed.

The enforcement of SB4 marks a significant development in the ongoing debate over immigration policy in the United States. It highlights the complex relationship between federal and state governments in regulating immigration and raises questions about the extent of state authority in this area.

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