Appeals court blocks Texas SB4 immigration law: Everything to know | Migration news

Photo of author


A US federal appeals court has blocked Texas’ controversial immigration law, hours after the Supreme Court allowed the state to begin enforcing the measure.

Here’s what we know about the law and the latest updates:

What is Texas immigration law?

The law known as Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4) was signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in December and makes it a crime for foreigners to enter Texas from anywhere other than a legal port of entry. Texas and Mexico have 11 land ports that are legal crossing points between them. Typically, immigration law enforcement is carried out by the federal government.

While crossing the U.S. border is already a federal crime, typically prosecuted as a civil case within the immigration court system, SB4 introduced penalties of up to 20 years in prison for illegal re-entry into Texas.

After their arrest, migrants could also be ordered during the judicial process to return to Mexico – without the consent of Mexico – or face legal proceedings if they did not agree to go. Agents are also empowered to detain people suspected of crossing the border illegally.

SB4 is an extension of the “Operation Lone Star“, a border security program launched in March 2021 and has since grown to become a $12 billion initiative.

Under the program, the governor planted razor wire along the border, built a floating fence on the Rio Grande, increased the number of Texas National Guard members in the area and increased funding available to local authorities to attacking immigrants and asylum seekers. .

Abbott says the law is necessary because US President Joe Biden has failed to enforce federal laws that criminalize illegal entry or re-entry.

What did the Supreme Court rule on Tuesday?

The highest US court on Tuesday voted six to three to allow SB4 to take effect immediately.

The law was temporarily blocked last month after David A. Ezra, a federal judge in Austin, Texas, said it “could open the door for each state to pass its own version of immigration laws.” On March 5, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito also put the law on hold.

On Tuesday, two justices said the majority’s decision to allow the law to take effect could lead to “further chaos and crisis in immigration law enforcement,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote jointly. .

“The Court gives the green light to a law that will alter the old balance of power between the federal State and the States and sow chaos,” they added.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan also opposed the ruling.

What were the reactions to the Supreme Court ruling?

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the decision a “major victory.” Meanwhile, the Biden administration called the measure “harmful and unconstitutional.”

Abbott called the high court’s action “a positive development” but acknowledged that hearings will continue in the appeals court.

The American Civil Liberties Union called it “one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws ever passed by a state legislature” in the United States.

Sean Teare, a candidate for Harris County district attorney, told Al Jazeera that the ruling could create complicated legal scenarios.

“You will have mixed families, which means that some people are here with documentation and others are not, driving in the same car. Would you be calling the person driving a smuggler, if they have documentation? And accuse them of a serious crime and destroy a family? Teare said.

What did the appeals court do and what comes next?

After the Supreme Court announced its ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, arrested law enforcement.

Chief Circuit Judge Priscilla Richman, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, and Judge Irma Ramirez, appointed by Biden, voted to block the law. His reasoning is not yet known.

U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham, a conservative appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, dissented.

The Fifth Circuit court has scheduled oral arguments for 10 a.m. CT (3:00 p.m. GMT) Wednesday on whether the law should be blocked. According to local media reports, the appeals court is expected to continue presenting arguments next month on whether the law is unconstitutional and should be blocked indefinitely.

What has Mexico said?

On Tuesday, Mexico condemned the Texas law, after the Supreme Court approved it and before the appeals court blocked it.

“Mexico categorically rejects any measure that allows state or local authorities to exercise immigration control, and arrest and return nationals or foreigners to Mexican territory,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. statement.

“Mexico also questions legal provisions that affect the human rights of the more than 10 million people of Mexican origin who live in Texas, and give rise to hostile environments in which the migrant community is exposed to hate speech, discrimination and racial profiling. ”, he points out. aggregate.

The ministry also said Mexico would not accept deportations carried out by Texas “under any circumstances.” The ruling would lead to “family separation, discrimination and racial profiling that violate the human rights of the migrant community,” he said.

Mexico’s top diplomat for North America, Roberto Velasco Álvarez, also rejected the policy, saying it was a federal matter.

“Mexico expresses its rejection of the decision of the United States Supreme Court… Our country will not accept repatriations from the state of Texas. The dialogue on immigration matters will continue between the federal governments of Mexico and the United States,” he said.

Leave a comment