Supreme Court extends pause on enforcement of Texas migrant law

 March 13, 2024

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott made headlines late last year when he signed SB4, a law that makes it a state crime to cross the border illegally.

However, the legislation hit a snag earlier this month when the Supreme Court put a stay on a lower court order which allowed it to be enforced. On Tuesday, Justice Samuel Alito extended that stay until next week. 

Texas points to "invasion" by migrants and drug cartels

According to CBS News, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra issued a ruling in February that prohibited Texas from prosecuting individuals for having unlawfully entered the United States.

Ezra accepted the Biden administration's contention that SB4 conflicts with federal law and is thus precluded by Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which is often referred to as the "Supremacy Clause."

The judge also rejected Texas' claim that it is authorized to defend itself from an "invasion" by illegal migrants and Mexican drug cartels.

Texas subsequently secured a pause on Ezra's ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, prompting the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek relief from America's highest judicial body.

CBS News pointed out that the 5th Circuit is scheduled to begin hearing arguments regarding the merits of SB4 on April 3.

DOJ argues that SB4 violates "settled Supreme Court precedent"

The DOJ issued a January statement in which Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta slammed SB4 as being "clearly unconstitutional."

"Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and longstanding Supreme Court precedent, states cannot adopt immigration laws that interfere with the framework enacted by Congress," she continued.

"The Justice Department will continue to fulfill its responsibility to uphold the Constitution and enforce federal law," Gupta added.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton heads up the DOJ's Civil Divisions, and he spoke up as well, saying, "Texas cannot disregard the United States Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent."

Abbott: "Texas has the right to defend itself"

For his part, Abbott reacted to Ezra's ruling with a statement of his own which read, "Texas will immediately appeal this decision, and we will not back down in our fight to protect our state—and our nation—from President Biden's border crisis."

"The President of the United States has a constitutional duty to enforce federal laws protecting States, including laws already on the books that mandate the detention of illegal immigrants," Abbott declared.

"Texas has the right to defend itself because of President Biden's ongoing failure to fulfill his duty to protect our state from the invasion at our southern border," he insisted.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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