Supreme Court Moves Against Texas Over Migrant Enforcement

The Supreme Court has extended the administrative stay that it put in place on an immigration law in Texas that was set to go into effect on Wednesday.

The stay was approved by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, and will now last until March 18.

The bill, known as SB4, would’ve gone into effect Wednesday if the Supreme Court didn’t take any action. The Biden administration successfully won a previous request for a stay that has delayed it from being implemented.

Texas passed the new law last year. It gives local law enforcement officials the power to arrest people who enter the country illegally, and prosecute them for this as a crime in and of itself.

Judges in the state also would have the power to order the illegal immigrants to return back to Mexico if they were found guilty of their crimes. If they refused to return, they then could’ve been charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries with it a sentence of as much as six months behind bars.

Re-offenders would then face second-degree felony charges that carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

The Department of Justice under the Biden administration has been fighting this law since its inception, saying it’s unconstitutional. It argued in court documents:

“SB 4 impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce entry and removal provisions of federal law and interferes with its conduct of foreign relations.”

Last month, David Ezra, a judge in U.S. District Court, barred the law from being implemented by Texas.

But, many local law enforcement leaders are in support of the law. One of those officials is Brad Coe, the sheriff of Kinney County, who said:

“This law, if and when it goes into effect, will be one more tool in our toolbox to prevent the destruction of our country.”

Kinney County shares about 13 miles of border with Mexico, and the region has become a popular route for smugglers to sneak illegal immigrants into the country. Coe has said that many high-speed chases have occurred as these smugglers have tried to evade law enforcement.

Texas is continuing to fight the court orders, arguing that they have every right to defend their borders — even if the border in question is also an international border.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed this law last year, and it was the latest effort that his administration has taken to take border security measures into his own hands. He has repeatedly blasted the Biden administration for its lack of action on immigration, and has said he’s sick of Texas having to shoulder such a large burden of the rising crisis.

Abbott allowed Texas’ Department of Public Safety and National Guard to take control of a public park in Eagle Pass, where illegal crossings have risen substantially.

He’s also had state officials install razor wire fencing along parts of the border there to deter migrants from entering, and has installed floating barriers in parts of the Rio Grande in an attempt to do the same.