SCOTUS Indefinitely Extends Border Bill Pause

Migrants keep warm by a fire
Migrants keep warm by a fire after spending the night outside next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence | Image by John Moore/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court extended an administrative stay of a Texas state law on Monday that would make unlawfully crossing the border a crime.

SB 4, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in December, would allow state law enforcement officers to arrest those who are suspected of illegally entering the state.

While the law was set to go into effect on March 5, it will now be unenforceable for the foreseeable future due to the extension of an administrative stay issued by Justice Samuel Alito.

The stay was ordered in a conjoined lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union that claims the law is unconstitutional since the federal government is purportedly solely tasked with enforcing immigration laws.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously granted a temporary stay of a lower court’s ruling, which had put enforcement of the law on pause. The federal appellate court had delayed the enforcement of its ruling, allowing the federal government time to appeal its decision to allow the law to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

SB 4 has prompted claims from some that it will disproportionately affect minorities. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) posted on social media that the bill was “a dangerous new law targeting immigrants + everyone who looks like them.”

Abbott has argued that the law is necessary because President Joe Biden’s administration has failed to perform its “constitutional duty to enforce federal laws protecting States, including laws already on the books that mandate the detention of illegal immigrants.”

“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. Even from the bench, this District Judge acknowledged that this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.

The litigation surrounding SB 4 comes as the state continues to deal with record levels of unlawful migration at the southern border, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting more than 7.5 million encounters since Biden took office in 2021.

In addition to the implementation of SB 4, Texas has taken multiple steps to manage the ongoing crisis, such as the transportation of unlawful migrants to sanctuary cities across the country.

Since this program began in April 2022, more than 105,000 migrants have been transported to at least six different sanctuary cities, according to a press release from Abbott’s office.

While this program has purportedly helped the state manage the ongoing influx of migrants, it has also come with a high price tag of more than $148 million in taxpayer money as of January 24, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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