Supreme Court Rules Texas Is Allowed To Enforce SB4 Law, Police Can Arrest Illegals

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
1:24 PM – Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A new law that gives local police the authority to arrest illegal immigrants will be temporarily enforced in Texas, the Supreme Court decided on Tuesday.


The ruling is a major blow to the Biden administration, who fought against the measure.

The Biden administration filed an emergency request with the conservative-majority court, arguing that states should not have the right to enact immigration laws as the federal government alone has jurisdiction over the matter. Three liberal justices dissented from the ruling.

This implies that the legislation may be implemented even when lower court litigation is ongoing. However, it might be blocked in the future.

“The court gives a green light to a law that will upend the longstanding federal-state balance of power and sow chaos,” liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissenting opinion. Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson also objected to the decision.

While the majority did not provide reasoning, Justice Amy Coney Barrett filed a separate letter pointing out that an appeals court has not yet weighed in on the matter.

“If a decision does not issue soon, the applicants may return to this court,” Barrett wrote. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a fellow conservative, agreed with her viewpoint. The conservative majority on the court is 6-3.

The statute, known as SB4, imposes criminal penalties and permits authorities to apprehend migrants who enter the country illegally. Additionally, it would give state judges the authority to order deportations to Mexico and other nations.

However, Kagan claimed that the Texas law conflicted with federal law, saying, “the subject of immigration generally, and the entry and removal of noncitizens particularly, are matters long thought the special province of the federal government.”

The Biden administration previously sued, and a federal judge blocked the law. However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, located in New Orleans, stated in a brief order that the law could take effect on March 10th in the event that the Supreme Court decided not to get involved.

Judge Samuel Alito temporarily halted the law’s implementation on March 4th in order to give the Supreme Court time to review the federal government’s motion.

Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar attempted to refute Texas’ claim that the State War Clause of the Constitution allows the state to defend its laws since it is essentially fighting an invasion at the border. States are not allowed to “engage in war, unless actually invaded” or in immediate danger, according to the clause.

“A surge of unauthorized immigration plainly is not an invasion within the meaning of the State War Clause,” Prelogar wrote.

Nevertheless, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hit back and defended the legislation in court documents, arguing that the state ought to have the authority to implement it as it supplements federal law.

Paxton asserted that the Constitution “recognizes that Texas has the sovereign right to defend itself from violent transnational cartels that flood the state with fentanyl, weapons, and all manner of brutality.”

The Lone Star State is “the nation’s first-line defense against transnational violence and has been forced to deal with the deadly consequences of the federal government’s inability or unwillingness to protect the border,” he added.

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