Supreme Court DENIES Biden Administration’s request to block Texas bill allowing cops to arrest anyone who crosses border illegally

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • The White House has argued that the law violates the Constitution and federal law by interfering with the U.S. government’s power to regulate immigration
  • Liberal Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority decision 

The Supreme Court has declined to block a Texas law that will allow state officials to arrest people suspected of crossing the US-Mexico border illegally, in a temporary blow to the Biden administration.

The administration had asked the justices to freeze a judicial order allowing the Republican-backed Texas law to take effect while the Justice Department ‘s challenge to the statute proceeds in the lower courts. 

The SCOTUS decision means Texas cops will be allowed to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally, giving local officers powers long delegated to the federal government.

Liberal Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority decision.

The Court gave no reasons for its decision, as is typical with emergency applications, but justice Amy Coney Barrett said in her opinion the Justices were returning the case to an appeals court, and if a decision is not issued soon, ‘the applicants may return to this court.’

The Biden administration has argued that the law violates the Constitution and federal law by interfering with the federal government’s power to regulate immigration.

The Supreme Court has rejected a bid by the Biden administration to block a Texas law that would allow state officials to arrest people suspected of crossing the southern border illegally. Liberal Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented

Two migrants struggle to cross the Rio Grande River on the Mexico-US border as Texas National Guards take security measures in Eagle Pass, Texas

Two migrants struggle to cross the Rio Grande River on the Mexico-US border as Texas National Guards take security measures in Eagle Pass, Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference about the panhandle wildfires, Friday, March 1 in Borger, Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference about the panhandle wildfires, Friday, March 1 in Borger, Texas

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who signed the bill in December, has said the law was needed due to Biden’s failure to enforce federal laws criminalizing illegal entry or re-entry, claiming in December that ‘Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.’

Abbott reacted to the SCOTUS decision on X, writing: ‘In a 6-3 decision SCOTUS allows Texas to begin enforcing SB4 that allows the arrest of illegal immigrants. We still have to have hearings in the 5th circuit federal court of appeals. 

‘But this is clearly a positive development.’

The Democratic president’s handling of the record numbers of migrants caught illegally crossing the US-Mexico border during his presidency has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans. 

Abbott and other Republicans have said Biden should have kept the restrictive policies of former President Donald Trump, their party’s candidate challenging Biden in the upcoming presidential election in November.

Texas has pursued a range of measures to deter people who cross illegally under its Operation Lone Star, including deploying National Guard troops to the border

Texas has pursued a range of measures to deter people who cross illegally under its Operation Lone Star, including deploying National Guard troops to the border

The Texas law made illegal entry or re-entry into Texas a state crime, with penalties ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. Migrants are seen crossng the Rio Grande

The Texas law made illegal entry or re-entry into Texas a state crime, with penalties ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. Migrants are seen crossng the Rio Grande

The Texas law made illegal entry or re-entry into Texas a state crime, with penalties ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. Under it, Texas magistrate judges will be required to order migrants to return to Mexico, with up to 20-year sentences for those who refuse to comply.

The Justice Department sued in January to block the measure, which was originally set to take effect on March 5. Biden administration lawyers argued that it violates federal law and constitutional provisions giving the US government the power to regulate commerce with foreign countries and among states, and runs afoul of a 2012 Supreme Court precedent.

Texas-based U.S. District David Ezra on February 29 sided with the administration and agreed to preliminarily block Texas officials from enforcing the law, saying that it ‘threatens the fundamental notion that the United States must regulate immigration with one voice.’

Migrants attempting to cross the North American side of the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in Texas, United States on March 3, 2024

Migrants attempting to cross the North American side of the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in Texas, United States on March 3, 2024

The surge of migrants in Texas has created a huge burden for the state and for the non-profits that help migrants. Pictured above, migrants rest on cots at a shelter in El Paso, Texas

The surge of migrants in Texas has created a huge burden for the state and for the non-profits that help migrants. Pictured above, migrants rest on cots at a shelter in El Paso, Texas

But the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals paused Ezra’s ruling in an order that would have let the Texas law take effect on March 10, prompting the administration to file an emergency request to the Supreme Court.

Justice Samuel Alito, who handles certain emergency matters involving cases from a group of states including Texas, on March 4 halted the 5th Circuit ruling – and thus the law – from taking effect, giving the Supreme Court more time to consider the matter.

Texas has pursued a range of measures to deter people who cross illegally under its Operation Lone Star, including deploying National Guard troops to the border, blocking migrants with concertina wire and installing a floating barrier over a stretch of the Rio Grande.

Republicans in February scuttled a bipartisan Senate deal that would have bolstered border security and tightened immigration laws after Trump pushed members of his party to reject it. Biden said blame for the bill’s failure lay with Republican lawmakers who bowed to political pressure from Trump who ‘thinks it’s bad for him politically.’

An analysis of exit polls conducted by Edison Research following primary election voting in early March showed alarm among many voters over the situation along the border. Many called it their top voting issue. Reuters/Ipsos polling showed Biden’s public approval level at 37 percent as of February 28.

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