HomePoliticsTexas' border enforcement bill has been blocked again due to legal whiplash

Texas’ border enforcement bill has been blocked again due to legal whiplash

By John Kruzel and Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Republican-backed law in Texas that would allow state law enforcement authorities to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border was blocked again by an appeals court on Wednesday, just hours after the US Supreme Court had approved the case. way it comes into effect.

A ruling Tuesday night from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted enforcement of the law ahead of oral arguments on the issue scheduled for Wednesday.

The legal back-and-forth in the case has created uncertainty about the future of Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial measure. The law is opposed by the president’s Democratic administration Joe Biden which says it would stop the federal government from enforcing immigration laws.

Abbott last December signed the law, known as SB 4, that authorizes state law enforcement agencies to arrest people suspected of entering the U.S. illegally, giving local officers powers long delegated to the federal government. Abbott said the law was needed because Biden failed to enforce federal laws criminalizing illegal entry or re-entry.

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Republicans have sharply criticized the Democratic president’s handling of the record number of migrants caught illegally crossing the US-Mexico border. Abbott and other Republicans support the former president’s restrictive policies Donald Trumptheir party’s candidate who challenged Biden in the November 5 US elections.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Texas law “will sow chaos and confusion at our southern border.”

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in January to block the measure, which was originally set to take effect on March 5. The administration said the law violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law by interfering with the U.S. government’s power to regulate immigration and violating a 2012 treaty. Supreme Court precedent.

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. It requires magistrate judges in Texas to order migrants to return to Mexico, with prison sentences of up to 20 years for those who refuse to comply.

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However, Mexico said on Tuesday it would not accept those repatriated by the state of Texas.

Texas-based U.S. District Judge David Ezra sided with the Biden administration on Feb. 29, agreeing to temporarily block Texas officials from enforcing the law. He said it “threatens the fundamental idea that the United States should regulate immigration with one voice.”

But the 5th Circuit halted Ezra’s ruling in an order that would have made the law take effect March 10, prompting the government to file an emergency petition with the Supreme Court. Justice Samuel Alito, acting for the Supreme Court, had halted the 5th Circuit’s ruling — and thus the law — from taking effect on March 4, giving the justices more time to consider the case.

The Supreme Court then ruled 6-3 on Tuesday, along ideological lines, to let the law take effect before the 5th Circuit’s decision.

The 5th Circuit panel lifted the administrative stay on a 2-1 vote, ahead of arguments on whether the lower court’s order should be stayed again while Texas appealed.

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The majority in the appeals court order included Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla Richman, an appointee of Republican former President George W. Bush, and U.S. Circuit Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez, a Biden appointee. U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham, a conservative appointee of Republican former President Donald Trump, disagreed.

(Reporting by John Kruzel in Washington and Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York, Kristina Cooke in San Francisco, Kylie Madry in Mexico City and Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham, David Gregorio and Lincoln Feast .)

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