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Supreme Court Decision Temporarily Pumps Brakes On Texas Law Allowing Police To Arrest Illegal Migrants

Justice Samuel Alito put a temporary pause on an appeals court ruling that would have let a Texas law allowing local police to arrest illegal migrants take effect this weekend.

The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court Monday to prevent the law from taking effect, arguing it would “create chaos in the United States’ efforts to administer federal immigration laws in Texas.” The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed on Saturday a lower court’s decision to block the law while litigation continues, enabling the law to take effect this weekend if the Supreme Court did not intervene.

Alito issued an administrative stay pausing the Fifth Circuit’s decision until March 13 at 5 pm.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the Court in the government’s application Monday that letting the law take effect would have the effect of “profoundly altering the status quo that has existed between the United States and the States in the context of immigration for almost 150 years.”

“By allowing Texas to remove noncitizens to Mexico without its consent, SB4 would have significant and immediate adverse effects on the United States’ relationship with Mexico — a relationship that is critical to the federal government’s ability to effectively address immigration at the southwest border,” Prelogar wrote. “SB4 would harm the federal government’s relationship with other countries and prevent the United States from conducting assessments under treaties concerning removal to countries where the noncitizen may be persecuted or tortured.”

The Department of Justice sued over Texas’ SB 4 in January, shortly after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law in response to record increases in illegal crossings.

“In contrast to the profound harms that enforcement of SB4 would cause to the United States, Texas would face no cognizable harm from a preliminary injunction that merely maintains the longstanding status quo while this litigation proceeds,” the government argued Monday.

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