Texas Immigration Law Blocked (For Now)

March 19, 2024

Our immigration law, SB 4, is now in effect.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) after the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that a TX immigration law (often referred to as Senate Bill 4 or SB 4) may take effect. The law has since been blocked by a federal appeals court.

Tuesday Night Development: Hours after the Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’ immigration law to take effect, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a hold on the law. Oral arguments take place before the appeals court on Wednesday “to determine if the law should remain on hold until the court rules on SB4’s legality” (ABC News).


Why It Matters: Amid historic levels of people attempting entry in to the U.S. via the southwest border in recent months, Texas has been “asserting broad new authority to tackle illegal immigration, making the novel argument that the US Constitution authorizes the state to defend itself against the influx,” Bloomberg Law explains. Texas’ Senate Bill 4 provides Texas law enforcement (with probable cause) authority to arrest people suspected to have entered the state illegally, and makes unauthorized entry into Texas a state crime. The Biden administration is challenging this law, arguing that it violates the Constitution by allowing states to enforce federal immigration law. However, Tuesday’s ruling allows SB 4 to take affect while the appeals process plays out.

Background: TX Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law in December. In February, a federal judge blocked the law; then, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals set aside the lower court’s ruling and provided an opportunity for the law to take effect while the case works its way through the appeal process. However, the Biden admin requested the Supreme Court step in and prevent the law from going into effect until the 5th Circuit issues a ruling on SB 4’s legality. On Monday, the Supreme Court for the second time extended a temporary block on the TX law before lifting the hold on Tuesday.

Big Picture: “The battle over the Texas immigration law is one of multiple legal disputes between Texas officials and the Biden administration over how far the state can go to patrol the Texas-Mexico border and prevent illegal border crossings” (The Associated Press).


Read More: Supreme Court permits Texas police to arrest people who illegally cross the border as SB 4 legal clash continues (The Texas Tribune)

Tuesday Night Update: Texas’ new immigration law is blocked again (The Texas Tribune)

by Leah Grainery, based in Texas