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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Texas’s Anti-Immigrant Law to Proceed

In a pivotal decision on Tuesday, the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the emergency stay on Texas’s controversial anti-immigrant law, known as SB4. Signed by Governor Greg Abbott in December, the law introduces harsh penalties, including up to 20 years in prison, for irregular entry into the state. Additionally, it grants local law enforcement agencies the authority to request documents from individuals suspected of illegal entry.

Critics argue that SB4 encroaches upon federal authority over immigration, a point Governor Abbott vehemently opposes, citing the need to address irregular immigration. The law will remain in effect as a legal battle over its constitutionality unfolds.

The Biden administration lodged a lawsuit against Texas, arguing that SB4 disrupts the longstanding balance between federal and state authority on immigration matters. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case, with potential for further escalation to the Supreme Court.

Despite their vote to allow SB4’s enforcement, conservative justices Barrett and Kavanaugh clarified that their decision was procedural, not indicative of agreement with the law’s content. They anticipate revisiting the issue post the Fifth Circuit’s ruling.

SB4’s journey through the courts began in February, when a federal judge deemed it unconstitutional, drawing parallels to Arizona’s SB1070 law from 2010. Like its predecessor, SB1070 faced legal scrutiny, ultimately resulting in a Supreme Court decision affirming federal primacy in immigration law.

The contentious debate over SB4 underscores broader tensions surrounding immigration policy and federal-state relations, echoing historical precedents and contemporary political divisions.