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Controversial Texas immigration law put on hold again by U.S. Supreme Court 'pending further order'

 Migrants are taken into custody by officials at the Texas-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Migrants are taken into custody by officials at the Texas-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas.

A Texas law that allows local and state police officers to arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally has been kept on hold by the United States Supreme Court “pending further order from the court.”

The latest development came a few minutes after a previous pause in the law’s implementation expired Monday afternoon.

Senate Bill 4 was passed in late 2023 as part of a priority package of immigration and border security bills championed by Gov. Greg Abbott and other far-right leaders. The legislation also permits local judges to order a migrant to return to Mexico regardless of their nationality.

The bill was originally scheduled to take effect March 5, but it’s implementation was temporarily blocked by U.S. District Judge David Ezra. On Feb. 29, Ezra ruled the law is likely unconstitutional because the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration matters.

The state of Texas immediately appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As that case is pending, the U.S. Supreme Court has once again delayed the law's implementation.

The lawsuit challenging SB 4 was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights project on behalf of El Paso-based Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateways, and El Paso County. It names Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and El Paso County District Attorney Bill Hicks as defendants.

A separate lawsuit was later filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the two were consolidated. The lawsuits alleged the law was unconstitutional because immigration enforcement is solely the responsibility of the federal government.

This is a developing story.

Copyright 2024 KERA

Julián Aguilar | The Texas Newsroom