US Supreme Court lets Texas state border enforcement law take effect

US Supreme Court lets Texas state border enforcement law take effect

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday let a Republican-backed Texas law take effect that allows state law enforcement authorities to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, rejecting a bid to block it by President Joe Biden's administration.

The court has a 6-3 conservative majority, and its three liberal justices dissented, saying Tuesday's action turns immigration enforcement - typically the province of the federal government - on its head. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Texas law will "sow chaos and confusion at our southern border." Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the court's action "clearly a positive development." The administration had asked the justices to freeze a judicial order allowing the law to take effect while its challenge to the statute proceeds in lower courts.

The Justice Department sued in January to block the measure, originally set to take effect on March 5. The administration said the law violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law by interfering with the U.S. government's power to regulate immigration as well as running afoul of a 2012 Supreme Court precedent. Abbott last December signed the law, known as SB 4, authorizing state law enforcement to arrest people suspected of entering the U.S. illegally, giving local officers powers long delegated to the federal government. Abbott said the law was needed due to Biden's failure to enforce federal laws criminalizing illegal entry or re-entry.

"Today, the court invites further chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissent joined by fellow liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote a separate dissent. Republicans have sharply criticized the Democratic president's handling of the record numbers of migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Abbott and other Republicans favour the restrictive policies of former President Donald Trump, their party's candidate challenging Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election. The Texas law made illegal entry or re-entry into Texas a state crime, with penalties ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. It requires Texas magistrate judges to order migrants to return to Mexico, with up to 20-year sentences for those who refuse to comply.

Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote an opinion concurring in Tuesday's decision, explaining the justices were being asked to upend a lower appeals court's "administrative stay" of a judicial decision blocking the law - a measure that is meant to be short-lived. Barrett, who was joined by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said Biden's administration could file another application to the Supreme Court if the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals does not issue a ruling "soon."

The Daily Herald

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