Biden vs. Texas: Court Greenlights Arrest of Migrants Crossing Into State (Texas immigration law)

Texas’ bold new immigration law defies the norm! Discover how it’s turning heads and stirring nationwide debate.

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Texas Immigration Law: The most stringent state-level immigration legislation in the country went into force in Texas on Tuesday, as the United States Supreme Court temporarily agreed with Gov. Greg Abbott in his increasingly heated battle with the Biden administration over border policies.

The legislation makes it illegal for migrants to enter Texas from Mexico without permission and establishes a procedure for state courts to force migrants accused with breaking the law to return to Mexico, regardless of national origin.

The Supreme Court determined that the legislation may be temporarily implemented while a federal appeals court examines whether to overturn a lower-court decision that deemed the Texas measure unconstitutional for a number of reasons.

“Huge win,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. Mr. Abbott, the governor, had a little more cautious approach to the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it as “a positive development.”

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said it will hear oral arguments Wednesday morning on whether the lower-court injunction blocking the statute should be allowed to remain in force while the complete appeal is pending.

The unexpected approval for the measure to go into force seemed to take Texas authorities off surprise. As of Tuesday evening, there was no scheduled timetable for enforcement to commence. Two state officials said that the timeframe was still being negotiated and that arrests may begin within days.

By allowing arrests to resume in Texas, even temporarily, the Supreme Court added uncertainty to an already contentious national immigration debate, ensuring that the issue remains a focal point of President Biden’s 2024 campaign against former President Donald J. Trump.

A migrant landing in Texas may now face quite different circumstances than one coming in New Mexico or Arizona.

The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that the Biden administration disagreed with the court’s decision and that the new rule will “sow chaos and confusion at our southern border.”

In a statement, the Mexican government said that it “categorically rejects” any rule that empowers state or municipal authorities in the United States to “arrest and return nationals or foreigners to Mexican territory” and that it would not recognize deportations made by Texas.

As the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, National Guard soldiers stationed in Eagle Pass as part of Mr. Abbott’s border enforcement measures sat in Humvees in a local park that Texas had taken over in an attempt to block crossings. Other soldiers guarded the Rio Grande near huge razor wire-topped barriers.

Until this, they were only authorized to conduct trespassing arrests on private property with the landowner’s agreement. There were few indications near the border on Tuesday that the legal environment had shifted.

In any event, authorities claimed there had been few migrant crossings in the region in recent days, indicating a substantial overall reduction in crossings into the United States from Mexico since a high in December.

Any fresh arrests were likely to be made mostly by Texas Department of Public Safety agents stationed at the border as part of Mr. Abbott’s border initiative, Operation Lone Star.

Texas authorities have said in court documents and interviews that they would concentrate their enforcement efforts on single males and women spotted crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico. Families would be given over to US Border Patrol officials, as is presently the case.

“Our focus will be more on single adults, not families,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in an interview before to the Supreme Court decision. “Single men, single women.”

“That’s how we do it right now with criminal trespass,” he said.

For more than two years, state police officers in Texas have charged migrants caught on private property with criminal trespassing. However, the new legislation would empower them to make arrests anywhere in the state. Furthermore, any officer is authorized to enforce the new rule, even sheriffs, county constables, and municipal police officers who are not near the border.

The law’s broad scope, known as Senate Bill 4 or S.B. 4, drew severe condemnation from civil rights and immigration advocacy organizations, as well as Texas Democrats. Last year, the State Legislature debated the measure, and tempers rose.

“This is a dangerous day for our democracy,” said Representative Armando Walle, a Houston Democrat who fiercely opposed the measure. “Senate Bill 4 will not increase border security. It will instill terror in our communities.”

Anand Balakrishnan, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued Texas over the statute alongside the Biden administration, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling “threatens the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws and bedrock principles of due process.”

Some county officials near the border, as well as sheriffs who administer county prisons, were concerned that the new legislation would cause their courts and jails to become overcrowded with migrants. A first offense is considered a misdemeanor under the law. A second violation becomes a felony.

In a court declaration as part of the federal complaint, Victor Escalon, a key commander in Texas’ public safety agency, said that police will focus enforcement in regions near state prison facilities, which have previously been utilized as cells for migrants awaiting trial on trespassing charges.

Mr. Olivarez said in an interview before to the Supreme Court order that any early waves of arrests would most likely be restricted by the capacity of processing facilities in Del Rio and Jim Hogg County, which were established to handle trespassing charges. He said that each had capacity for around 100 migrants for initial court processing.

Mr. Olivarez cited a moment last summer when a significant number of migrants crossed and state police officials were forced to restrict the amount of arrests they could make at any one time. “We made 30 to 40 arrests within the first hour, and then we had to kind of hold off for the rest of the day because we were at capacity,” he told reporters.

Tensions between the federal government and Texas have surfaced in a number of court cases centered in and near Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, where state officials have concentrated much of their enforcement efforts.

The state prohibited Border Patrol officers from accessing the park’s river bank in January, but federal agents may still use the boat ramp.

Federal officials have sometimes broken the concertina wire installed by Texas National Guard soldiers along the riverbank at Eagle Pass to help migrants attempting to climb out. In a second lawsuit, the Supreme Court backed with the federal government, ruling that agents might cut the sharp wire as needed.

Those tensions were not visible down the river on Tuesday afternoon, as federal border officials stood atop a pair of US Customs and Border Protection airboats, with two smaller vessels from the Texas National Guard nearby.

Further north along the river, state forces proceeded to build fresh razor wire and fence to keep migrants who come ashore, even those who may be legitimately seeking asylum, from approaching Border Patrol officials and surrendering themselves.

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