Supreme Court Extends Block on Texas Migrant Law

By Jerry McConway, updated on March 19, 2024

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided to extend a block on a law passed in Texas that would have allowed local police to arrest illegal immigrants after having crossed the border.

The initial stay was requested by the Biden administration and granted, and now that stay will be extended while the court further reviews the law, leaving liberals speechless that the court is extending the stay and baffling conservates who thought this case was a slam dunk for Texas and Governor Abbott.

Talking Points…
- The Texas law
- Supreme Court stays the law
- Analysis

New Texas Legislation Allows Police to Arrest Illegal Immigrants

In November 2023, legislation was passed in Texas that would allow local police to arrest and charge migrants coming over the border illegally. The violation would be considered a misdemeanor, but it would then be taken before a state judge, who could then order the migrant to leave the United States and return to Mexico or face prosecution in Texas.

The law was passed with overwhelming support in the state legislature, and it appropriated $1.5 billion for enforcement, which would also go toward constructing barriers at the border. When Abbott signed the bill into law, he stated:

“Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself.”

Democrats and immigration advocates immediately attacked the law, encouraging the Biden administration to step in and block the law from going into effect. Rep. Castro (D-TX) sent a letter to the DOJ to immediately go after Abbott for the law, writing:

“We urge you to assert your authority over federal immigration and foreign policy and pursue legal action, as appropriate, to stop this unconstitutional and dangerous legislation from going into effect.”

More than two dozen former immigration judges also released a statement that the new bill was unconstitutional and needed to be blocked. That statement read:

“The proposed Texas legislation, which would allow a state court magistrate judge to issue a removal order, is not lawful. Immigration is plainly a federal function.

“State legislators cannot enact immigration laws for the same reasons that the United States Congress cannot enact Texas state legislation. State magistrate judges cannot conduct immigration proceedings for the same reason that federal Immigration Judges cannot adjudicate Texas state criminal cases.”

Supreme Court Stays Texas Immigration Law

The legislation was defeated in lower courts, and it eventually found its way to the Supreme Court, where it was initially stayed. This surprised quite a few people, but I had actually written that I expected Texas to lose this ruling because the Supreme Court has ruled numerous times in favor of the federal government on immigration issues. On Monday, the court announced that it would extend the stay of the law pending further review.

Analysis

In the past, the Supreme Court has been very frank that all immigration matters fall under federal purview. We can go back to a similar Arizona law that was passed more than a decade ago, which was struck down by the court and would have given the state virtually the same authorities being asked for in this Texas legislation.

The court has been very clear about this, with an even more recent ruling from June 2023, where Texas and Louisiana challenged the federal government and lost. In United States v. Texas, Texas and Louisiana challenged immigration enforcement guidelines that DHS Secretary Mayorkas handed down, but they lost the case when the Supreme Court ruled that this was not the responsibility of states.

So, the question now becomes how much leeway you give the federal government when basic immigration laws are not being enforced at the federal level, hurting the state in question. I am not sure this will be enough of a twist to get the court to rule in favor of Texas, and with the above ruling coming down at 8-1 in favor of the government, I do not have particularly high hopes for this.

This is also a huge case for Donald Trump, as he promised to write an Executive Order on day one to give this authority to local police nationwide. The court has been fairly straightforward that such authority can only be given by an act of Congress, so Trump will have to get legislation passed to make this happen, as any EO that he signs will be immediately challenged in court, and he will lose based on precedents already in place at the Supreme Court level.

About Jerry McConway

Jerry McConway is an independent political author and investigator who lives in Dallas, Texas. He has spent years building a strong following of readers who know that he will write what he believes is true, even if it means criticizing politicians his followers support. His readers have come to expect his integrity.

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