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Biden appeals to Supreme Court to halt Texas enforcement of SB4 immigration law

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The Biden administration has taken a decisive step on Monday, urging the Supreme Court to prevent Texas from implementing an immigration law known as SB4.

This law grants state law enforcement the authority to arrest migrants suspected of unauthorized entry into the United States. SB4, touted as one of the most expansive state immigration statutes in recent U.S. history, empowers Texas officials to detain and prosecute migrants for illegal entry or reentry, and even permits state judges to issue de facto deportation orders against alleged violators.

U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra recently responded to pleas from the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union by temporarily halting Texas’s enforcement of SB4, originally slated to commence on the following Tuesday. Judge Ezra underscored that immigration arrests and deportations fall under federal jurisdiction, dismissing Texas’s contention of facing an “invasion” by migrants.

However, Texas successfully sought a suspension of Ezra’s order from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over the weekend, pending a full review of the case. In light of the Biden administration’s intervention, Justice Samuel Alito has temporarily stayed the 5th Circuit’s ruling until March 13, affording Texas an opportunity to present its arguments by the end of the upcoming Monday. A favorable decision for Texas could result in SB4 taking effect on March 13, 5 p.m. ET.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a proponent of SB4, contends that the law is essential for curbing migrant crossings, accusing the Biden administration of failing to adequately address illegal immigration. Despite Texas state troopers already making arrests on trespassing charges, SB4 would grant them broader arrest powers without necessitating cooperation from property owners.

Conversely, the Biden administration asserts that SB4 disrupts federal immigration enforcement, disregards U.S. asylum laws, and strains diplomatic ties with Mexico, which has condemned the legislation as anti-immigrant. The Justice Department argues that SB4 would impede the administration of federal immigration laws in Texas, leading to widespread chaos.

The legal battle over SB4 epitomizes the ongoing discord between Texas and President Biden on immigration policy. Tensions have escalated, with disputes over physical barriers erected by Texas officials along the Rio Grande and the obstruction of federal Border Patrol activities in Eagle Pass by Texas National Guard soldiers. Notably, Texas has transported thousands of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to major Democratic-led cities, including New York, Chicago, and Denver, at the direction of Governor Abbott.

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