Biden, Texas feud over anti-illegal immigration law as migrants rush border: What to know


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Just as illegal immigrants rushed the southern border in El Paso, Texas, the Biden administration is locked in a months-long legal battle with Gov. Greg Abbott over a controversial anti-illegal immigration law.

What is S.B. 4?

Senate Bill 4 was passed by the Texas legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in December. The law allows police to arrest those in the country illegally by making it a state crime for someone to enter or re-enter the country illegally. It also allows state judges to order illegal immigrants to be deported.

The law was signed during a month in which there was a record number of encounters at the southern border, when more than 300,000 migrants hit the border.

MIGRANT ENCOUNTERS AT SOUTHERN BORDER HIT NEW FEBRUARY RECORD HIGH

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration have been feuding over how to handle the growing border crisis. (Getty Images)

Why was it controversial?

The move was immediately targeted in a lawsuit by the Biden administration in January. The administration said the law encroached upon federal immigration enforcement.

“[Texas’] efforts, through SB 4, intrude on the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate the entry and removal of noncitizens, frustrate the United States’ immigration operations and proceedings, and interfere with U.S. foreign relations,” the Department of Justice said in its January lawsuit.

But Texas says the law is necessary due to the Biden administration’s failure to handle the crisis at the southern border.

MEXICO SLAMS TEXAS OVER IMMIGRATION LAW, WON’T ACCEPT REPATRIATIONS FROM STATE AFTER SCOTUS RULING

“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 said in February. “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.” 

What happened in court?

The law was blocked and moved its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the court issued an administrative stay, putting it on hold. The matter then moved to the Supreme Court.

This week, the court kicked the case back to the 5th Circuit, briefly allowing for S.B. 4 to become law but without ruling on the merits of the case. Hours later, however, the 5th Circuit temporarily blocked the law from going into effect ahead of oral arguments Wednesday.

What happens next?

Now that oral arguments have been completed, the court will issue a ruling. It isn’t clear when that might happen.

BIDEN ADMIN, TEXAS HEAD BACK TO APPEALS COURT OVER ANTI-ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION LAW, HOURS AFTER SCOTUS RULING

When it does, there is a good chance one of the two sides will request that the Supreme Court intervene again. Justice Amy Coney Barrett had suggested such a move was likely in her concurring opinion Tuesday. 

“Before this Court intervenes on the emergency docket, the Fifth Circuit should be the first mover,” Barrett wrote.

“Merits briefing on Texas’s challenge to the District Court’s injunction of S. B. 4 is currently underway. If a decision does not issue soon, the applicants may return to this Court.”

What is Texas doing?

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Texas says it still has the ability to stop and arrest illegal border crossers, even with the law on ice. That was on display in a shocking moment Thursday when over 100 migrants burst through Texas National Guardsmen blocking their entry further into the U.S.

“Even without S.B. 4, Texas has the legal authority to arrest people coming across the razor wire barriers on our border, and we will continue to use our arrest authority and arrest people coming across the border illegally,” Gov. Abbott said Wednesday.

He added that Texas’ Department of Public Safety has already arrested more than 40,000 for crossing illegally.



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