immigration AND court
2021
2022
2023
2024
2023-12-18
  • Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed a law that makes it a state crime for migrants to cross the border illegally. The legislation, which passed both chambers of the legislature and was challenged by opponents who cited racial profiling concerns, will go into effect in March 2024 with penalties up to 20 years in prison for repeat offenders.
2024-01-01
  • In mid-December, just one day after Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law [a radical new immigration bill](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/18/us/abbott-texas-border-law-arrests.html), immigrant rights groups [challenged it in court](https://www.aclu.org/documents/las-americas-v-mccraw-complaint) as ridiculously unconstitutional. The groups felt they had no choice, but they did exactly what Texas was counting on, because the point of the law isn’t simply how outrageous it is; it’s about the fight it will cause. And nothing defines Mr. Abbott’s governorship more than his endless fights against Washington, almost always in a way that hurts the poor, the stateless and those who live outside the boundaries of his state’s Republican culture. The new law gives Texas the power to take over immigration enforcement from the federal government. It’s now a state crime to cross from Mexico to Texas at an unauthorized crossing; state police are empowered to arrest migrants, and state judges are empowered to order them to leave the country. Forget all those niceties about asylum policy; if Texas doesn’t want you in the state, it can kick you back over the border. None of this is legal, of course. Only the federal government can set immigration policy and enforce border security. Only the federal government can arrest migrants for immigration violations or deport them. The Supreme Court [made that clear in 2012 in a decision](https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/567/11-182/case.pdf) that prohibited Arizona from arresting people for being in the country without authorization. “The government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court’s majority, citing the government’s constitutional power [to regulate naturalization](https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/essay/artI-S8-C4-1-1/ALDE_00013160/) and control relations with foreign nations. “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration,” the decision says, “but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” Texas is well aware that it is deliberately defying the Arizona decision, but it also knows that Mississippi achieved a historic win for conservatives when it defied settled law by prohibiting most abortions after 15 weeks, setting the stage for the Supreme Court to then overturn Roe v. Wade in [Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization](https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf) in 2022. The court has changed significantly since the Arizona case, largely thanks to Donald Trump, and Mr. Abbott is openly hoping the more conservative majority will discard the Arizona precedent, just as it did abortion rights. “We think that Texas already has the constitutional authority to do this,” [he said at the signing](https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/politics/lone-star-politics/gov-abbott-signs-new-border-security-bills-immigrant-group-vows-lawsuit/3414664/), imagining a constitutional right that doesn’t exist, “but we also welcome a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the precedent set in the Arizona case.” (In [his dissent in that case](https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/567/387/#tab-opinion-1970517), Justice Antonin Scalia laid out a path for doing so, saying he saw nothing wrong with a state exercising sovereignty over its borders and openly expressing his political feelings by saying the lack of federal enforcement would leave the states “helpless before those evil effects of illegal immigration.”) Mr. Abbott has been doing this sort of thing since he was the Texas attorney general and found his mission in life by taking the Obama administration to court. The Texas Tribune published [a helpful list](https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/17/texas-federal-government-lawsuits/) of his 31 lawsuits against Washington, which included challenges to the E.P.A. on pollution rules, to an equal-employment rule that prohibited discrimination against felons, to the constitutionality of Obamacare and to rules requiring religious employers to pay for contraception. He had a mixed record, winning, losing and withdrawing suits, but victory was just a byproduct of the real point: battling the federal government at every step. “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home,” [he said in 2012](https://www.texastribune.org/2012/06/07/perry-gop-convention-im-not-riding-sunset/), describing his daily routine as attorney general. That kind of resistance to authority has always been a Texas thing, since copied by many other Republican imitators, but legal experts said [no other state came close](https://www.texastribune.org/2023/07/31/texas-federal-courts-conservative-takeover-obama-paxton/) to Texas’ volume of lawsuits. Mr. Abbott has made it the cottage industry of Texas government, and he has never been shy about acknowledging how many millions these legal actions cost the state. “Defending the constitutional principles that have made the United States truly exceptional: That’s priceless,” [he wrote in 2012](https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2012/09/26/greg-abbott-lawsuits-against-obama-are-taxpayer-bargain/). As governor, Mr. Abbott found a new way to parade his insolence. Rather than grind out lawsuits against the Biden administration, he can now do outrageous things and wait for the government to sue him. In some ways, that’s even better, because he can create facts on the ground and wait to see if a court will stop him. As part of Operation Lone Star, his National Guard put up more than 20 miles of razor wire along the Mexican border near El Paso, and he expressed no concern when [pictures turned up](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/07/us/migrants-chased-and-snared-in-razor-wire-a-rare-look-at-texas-border-tactics.html) of injured border crossers. A federal appeals court said in December that the U.S. Border Patrol couldn’t cut the wire while the legal action plays out. Earlier in the month, after the Justice Department [sued Texas](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/24/us/texas-migrants-border-rio-grande-justice-department.html) for stringing a large barrier of buoys in the Rio Grande, a federal appeals court [ordered the state to remove it](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/01/us/texas-border-buoys-court.html). Mr. Abbott, who said he was allowed to take such actions in the case of an “invasion,” vowed to take the buoy case [to the Supreme Court](https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1730712608724984095?s=20), following his usual pattern. This is how the far right does business these days: Push all legal limits, hope for a bailout by Trump appointees to the high court and celebrate the lost cause if they should lose. On Thursday, as if on cue for this tiresome drama, the governor got the best possible holiday gift from the Biden administration: a [letter from the Justice Department](https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/justice-department-threatens-sue-texas-new-border-18578418.php), warning that if Texas does not stop enforcing the new law by Jan. 3, “the United States will pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.” The Justice Department really had no choice; it could not sit by idly while a state usurped one of the federal government’s essential roles and violated the constitutional principle of supremacy. Nonetheless, Mr. Abbott, who has made a dubious career out of interfering with the functions of the federal government, clearly anticipated the letter and [immediately issued a statement](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/28/us/texas-border-law-justice-department.html) saying he had no intention of complying. And if pictures start to emerge next year of exhausted migrants and their children rounded up by state troopers and treated to Texas justice, his cynical victory will be complete.
2024-01-08
  • The Supreme Court appeared divided on Monday over what counted as proper notice for the government to give to people facing deportation hearings. The argument, which lasted nearly two hours, centered on whether undocumented immigrants should be allowed to challenge deportation orders if their initial notice to appear in court failed to list a time and date for the hearing. The dispute focused on how to interpret federal immigration law, but the broader debate over the country’s immigration system, in which [record numbers of migrants](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/04/us/border-eagle-pass-ambulance-workers.html) are entering the country, took center stage from the start. The lawyer for the government, Charles L. McCloud, contended that a decision in favor of the undocumented immigrants “threatens to unsettle hundreds of thousands” of deportation orders the courts have issued for “nearly three decades.” He predicted “an avalanche” of cases “could be injected back into the immigration system.” Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? Log in. Want all of The Times? Subscribe.
2024-01-22
  • The [Biden administration](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/biden-administration) is allowed to cut the razor wire deployed by Texas at the border with Mexico, the US supreme court ruled on Monday. The concertina wire, deployed at the direction of the Republican [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) governor, Greg Abbott, runs roughly 30 miles (48km) along the Rio Grande river, near the border city of Eagle Pass. It is part of Abbott’s broader fight with the Biden administration over immigration enforcement and what he calls “Biden’s reckless open-border policies”. It has also become a symbol of America’s broader political fight over the control of the nation’s border with many Republicans hailing it as tough, but necessary policy, and many Democrats decrying it as inhumane and cruel. Border security and immigration officially fall under the purview of the federal government, as decided in the 2012 supreme court case, [Arizona v United States](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/11-182). The court held that federal immigration law preempted Arizona’s immigration laws. In a narrow 5-4 vote, the supreme court has now granted an emergency appeal from the Biden administration. The ruling now means the lone star state must comply with the Biden administration and allow federal authorities access to the border, contrary to recent actions taken by state. Texas officials have argued that federal agents cut the wire to help groups crossing illegally through the river before taking them in for processing. A federal appeals court last month forced federal agents to stop cutting the concertina wire. Texas officials earlier this month refused an order from the Biden administration to allow US border patrol agents access to a part of the [US-Mexico border](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/us-mexico-border) that is now under the state’s control. Last week, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton rejected orders for the state to stop controlling Shelby Park, a public park and entry point into the US. A number of [migrants have crossed](https://apnews.com/article/immigration-texas-california-border-asylum-seekers-314698bfb5644be8f8f6085ebe9b9b98) at Eagle Pass in recent months. “We are not allowing Border Patrol on that property anymore. We’re not going to let this happen anymore,” Abbott said at the time. The refusal to obey federal orders cost lives, the department of homeland security [said](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/14/texas-three-migrants-drown-us-border-patrol). The agency reported three migrants, two of whom were two children, drowned near the park federal authorities were restricted from entering. In addition to wire, Abbott has also authorized installing [floating barriers in the Rio Grande](https://apnews.com/article/texas-buoys-border-immigration-12bc8abddef1c9384b25222b92d0840b) near Eagle Pass and allowed state troopers [to arrest and jail thousands of people suspected of migrating illegally on trespassing charges](https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-texas-immigration-c33939110eff92670d1d2b5488181bb0) – initiatives taken under [Operation Lone Star](https://gov.texas.gov/operationlonestar), a joint effort between the Texas department of public safety and the Texas military department that began in 2021 to curb illegal immigration. [skip past newsletter promotion](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/22/supreme-court-remove-texas-razor-wire-mexico-border-biden#EmailSignup-skip-link-13) Sign up to First Thing Our US morning briefing breaks down the key stories of the day, telling you what’s happening and why it matters **Privacy Notice:** Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our [Privacy Policy](https://www.theguardian.com/help/privacy-policy). We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google [Privacy Policy](https://policies.google.com/privacy) and [Terms of Service](https://policies.google.com/terms) apply. after newsletter promotion The Biden administration is also challenging those actions in federal court. In [court papers](https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/23/23A607/295564/20240112012220571_23a607%20DHS%20v%20TX%20supplement.pdf), the administration said the “fencing further restricts Border Patrol’s ability to reach the river in particular areas”. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor sided with the administration. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas voted with Texas. No explanations for their vote were provided by any of the justices. * _The Associated Press contributed to this report_
2024-01-23
  • Save The Supreme Court sided with the Biden administration on Monday and cleared the way for U.S. Border Patrol agents to [remove razor wire Texas officials installed along a busy stretch of the southern border](https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2023/10/30/texas-border-wire-abbott-lone-star/?itid=lk_inline_manual_2) until the legality of the barriers is resolved in court. As is typical in emergency actions, the majority did not explain its reasoning for dissolving an order from a lower court. Four conservatives — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh — noted their dissents without explanation. The case is one of several legal battles between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and the Biden administration over the governor’s border crackdown, Operation Lone Star. It comes at a time of [rising tension over how to handle hundreds of thousands of migrants](https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2024/01/02/us-border-mexico-migrants-closures/?itid=lk_inline_manual_5) who have entered the country illegally in recent months. Even though immigration and border security matters are generally the purview of the federal government, Abbott has mobilized thousands of National Guard troops and lined the banks of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass with razor wire to try to block illegal entries. The Supreme Court’s order reversing the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Monday does not address Texas’s [more recent move to seize control of a riverfront park](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/01/12/texas-immigration-abbott-shelby-park/?itid=lk_inline_manual_9) in Eagle Pass and deny the Border Patrol access to a section of the border there. The Biden administration cited the takeover in asking the court to expedite its review of the case, but it did not specifically challenge the state’s action regarding park access. That element of the dispute remains unresolved. “This is the Supreme Court siding with the federal government yet again on immigration, and the Fifth Circuit being overruled yet again,” said Kathleen Bush-Joseph, an attorney and analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) criticized the Supreme Court’s order. “The destruction of Texas’s border barriers will not help enforce the law or keep American citizens safe. This fight is not over,” Paxton said in a statement. Luis Miranda, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the department welcomed the court order. “Enforcement of immigration law is a federal responsibility,” he said in a statement. “Rather than helping to reduce irregular migration, the State of Texas has only made it harder for frontline personnel to do their jobs and to apply consequences under the law.” Border Patrol is not planning to use the order as a green light to remove the razor wire barriers if they do not present an immediate hazard, according to a senior agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the ruling. The official said agents are trying to amicably resolve disputes related to access along the riverbanks. Border agencies have been overwhelmed by the record volume of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans have been highly critical of President Biden’s immigration record and tried to capitalize on the issue on the campaign trail, bolstered by polls that show voters trust the GOP more than Democrats to manage the border. In addition to the wire barriers, the Texas governor has shepherded a new state law that would allow local police agencies to detain people they suspect of being in the country illegally and move to deport them — another law enforcement role historically reserved for the federal government, rather than the state. Both the [Justice Department](https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/01/03/texas-sued-sb4-migrants-justice-department/?itid=lk_inline_manual_23) and the [ACLU have sued](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/12/19/texas-greg-abbott-migrant-bill-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_23) Texas to block that law from taking effect. Texas initiated the lawsuit against the Biden administration last year to prevent agents from removing or cutting the wire barriers, which the federal government says prevent the agents from reaching migrants who have already entered U.S. territory. Under U.S. immigration law, anyone who reaches U.S. soil has the right to seek asylum here. A District Court judge sided with Texas, finding that the barriers limit illegal crossings, which impose costs on the state. But the lower court denied the state’s request to block Border Patrol agents from accessing the international border or disturbing the barrier while the litigation continued. Texas appealed that ruling to the 5th Circuit, which issued a temporary order prohibiting Border Patrol agents from cutting, damaging or moving the barriers while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts. The Biden administration then asked the Supreme Court to intervene on an emergency basis. Federal officials say the sharp barriers have maimed and bloodied migrants at several locations and pose a hazard to U.S. agents. After border-crossers used blankets and other garments to try to protect themselves from lacerations while crawling under or over the barrier, federal authorities cut a path through the wire to allow safe passage. The 5th Circuit order allows agents to cut the barrier in a medical emergency, but the Justice Department said the exception is essentially meaningless because it can take 10 to 30 minutes to cut through the thick layers of wire. Adding to the urgency, federal officials said this month that Texas National Guard personnel had blocked Border Patrol agents who were investigating reports of drowning migrants from a section of the Rio Grande where the state had placed the barriers. The bodies of three migrants, a woman and two children, were found in the river by Mexican authorities days later. Texas has told Border Patrol officials that agents who want to use the park’s boat ramp have to ask for permission, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar urged the justices to “restore Border Patrol’s access to the border it is charged with patrolling and the migrants it is responsible for apprehending, inspecting, and processing.” In filing their response, Texas officials said they were unaware of the Border Patrol’s ongoing need to access the area and were investigating the claim. Paxton, the state attorney general, urged the Supreme Court not to intervene before the 5th Circuit has an opportunity to fully consider the case, which is scheduled for argument on Feb. 7. “Defendants have claimed authority to destroy property that belongs to someone else based on their assurance that doing so is necessary to enforce federal immigration laws,” Texas Solicitor General Aaron L. Nielson said. _Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report._
2024-01-26
  • The fight [between Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/15/texas-border-dispute-white-house-migrants-drowing) and the federal government over the control of the US-Mexico border has further intensified after state governor Greg Abbott announced he will defy the Biden administration and US supreme court by ordering the installation of even more razor wire to deter migration. On Monday, the supreme court [voted](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/22/supreme-court-remove-texas-razor-wire-mexico-border-biden) 5-4 in favor of the federal government’s power to remove the controversial concertina wire installed along stretches of the border in Texas, at Abbott’s direction. Despite this, Abbott, a hard-right Republican, is intensifying his plans to try and fence off parts of the US border with Mexico. Federal agents were given further confirmation this week at the supreme court that they may remove the razor wire, as the enforcement of immigration law is under federal jurisdiction. But Abbott has argued there is nothing preventing him from ordering the [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) national guard to continue laying more razor wire down. The national guard is ultimately part of the US military, overseen by the US president as commander-in chief, but except in specific situations where the president explicitly takes federal control, the national guard in each state takes orders from its state governor. Immigration matters, as confirmed in the 2012 supreme court case Arizona v United States, officially fall under the federal government – not individual states. Abbott has repeatedly invoked the [invasion clause](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/29/texas-invasion-clause-migrants-racist-dangerous), essentially as a loophole, in the US and Texas constitutions, likening migrants to a public foreign enemy, which gives him the right to enforce border security and immigration matters, he argues. Fatma Marouf, a law professor and the director of the immigrant rights clinic at Texas A&M University’s School of Law said Abbott’s decision to lay more wire down “seems to defy the purpose of the supreme court’s order”. Marouf said the supreme court ruled in favor of “the federal government to continue its control of the border area. “The briefing really focused on the need for US customs and border protection officers to access the bank of the river to save migrants. There were reports of people being caught in the wire and dying. So to continue laying the wire really undermines the purpose of the injunction.” In Abbott’s [statement](https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1750235544951349275) released on Wednesday announcing his plan to continue going around the federal government, amid legal challenges, he accused Biden, the Democratic president, of using taxpayer dollars to “tear open” the border. “The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the states. The executive branch of the United States has a constitutional duty to enforce those laws and has even violated them,” Abbott said. “The result is that he has smashed records for illegal immigration.” Civil rights organizations, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens (Lulac), [condemned](https://lulac.org/news/pr/LULAC_EXPRESSES_OUTRAGE_AND_CALLS_FOR_AN_IMMEDIATE_FEDERAL_INVESTIGATION_INTO_REPORTS_OF_DPS_TROOPER_ORDERING_MIGRANT_CHILDREN_BE_PUSHED_INTO_RIO_GRANDE_RIVER/) the use of razor wire and other deterrents, such as a [floating barrier of buoys](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/aug/29/greg-abott-texas-governor-mexico-border-asylum-seekers-risk) with nets and barbed wire in the Rio Grande, as “inhumane”. In [response](https://lulac.org/news/pr/LULAC_EXPRESSES_OUTRAGE_AND_CALLS_FOR_AN_IMMEDIATE_FEDERAL_INVESTIGATION_INTO_REPORTS_OF_DPS_TROOPER_ORDERING_MIGRANT_CHILDREN_BE_PUSHED_INTO_RIO_GRANDE_RIVER/) to the supreme court’s ruling, Lulac national president Domingo García said: “Lulac today supports the supreme court ruling that only the federal government has jurisdiction over all border and immigration issues. Texas Governor Abbott’s political stunts are costing millions of taxpayers’ dollars and accomplishing nothing to solve the humanitarian crisis at the border. “Not to mention the human tragedy of deaths on barbed wire walls of innocent woman and children.” Earlier this month, a mother and her two children, from Mexico, [drowned](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/15/texas-border-dispute-white-house-migrants-drowing) in the river near Eagle Pass – a section of the border where state officials physically blocked federal agents from accessing part of the banks of the Rio Grande. Their deaths prompted a fierce response from US homeland security spokesperson, Luis Miranda, who said “the state of Texas should stop interfering with the US Border Patrol’s enforcement of US law”. The use of razor wire is part of Abbott’s publicly funded [Operation Lone Star](https://gov.texas.gov/operationlonestar) program, a joint effort between the Texas department of public safety and the Texas military department that began in 2021 to curb irregular migration. It coincided with more people crossing into the US because they were unable to claim asylum at an official crossing point or by appointment. Meanwhile, [tense talks](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/25/congress-mexico-border-ukraine-israel-aid-mcconnell) continue in Washington over legislation to tighten border restrictions. Marouf said Texas’s move is also “very concerning” because of its implications on the right to seek asylum. “We have in our immigration laws guaranteed a right to seek asylum for people fleeing persecution. And laying down barbed wire is the opposite of what we’re meant to do,” she said.
2024-01-27
  • ![People stand beside a pickup truck at the edge of a river.](https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/2lvLChldfL_YGPIeFrjYbxQKDvw=/0x0:828x463/1200x800/filters:focal(348x166:480x298)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/73089484/temp.0.png) US Border Patrol agents stand near a razor wire barrier erected near the US-Mexico border by the state of Texas. Courtesy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Last Monday, the [Supreme Court](https://www.vox.com/scotus) made its [first foray into a longstanding conflict](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/1/22/24047314/supreme-court-texas-homeland-security-razor-wire-eagle-pass-biden) over who is in charge of the United States-Mexico border: the United States government or Texas’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. In a 5–4 decision, the Court temporarily permitted federal officials to cut razor wire barriers set up by the Texas government, which had prevented US Border Patrol agents from entering an area where immigrants sometimes cross into the United States. This decision, moreover, came in one of several disputes between Texas and the United States over border policy — with [many GOP-led states now backing Abbott](https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2024/01/26/texas-border-dispute-gop-states-support-letter/72364737007/). Under existing law, it is well established that the federal government is in charge of nearly all questions of [immigration policy](https://www.vox.com/immigration) and may override state immigration [policies](https://www.vox.com/policy) that conflict with its goals. As the Supreme Court said in [_Arizona v. United States_](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/11-182#writing-11-182_OPINION_3) (2012), “\[I\]t is fundamental that foreign countries concerned about the status, safety, and security of their nationals in the United States must be able to confer and communicate on this subject with one national sovereign, not the 50 separate States.” But it is unclear whether the current Supreme Court, with its 6–3 Republican supermajority, will honor this longstanding balance of power between the national government and the states, which has been in place at least as far back as the Court’s 1941 decision in [_Hines v. Davidowitz_](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/312/52). Though the Court’s Monday order in [_Department of Homeland Security v. Texas_](https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/012224zr_fd9g.pdf) was a victory for the [Biden administration](https://www.vox.com/joe-biden), it was also an ominous sign that many of the justices are eager to shift power away from the federal government — and toward state officials like Abbott, who are eager to impose more draconian enforcement policies. The case involved an extraordinary attack on the federal government’s primacy over immigration. Texas erected razor wire barriers along a river in Eagle Pass, Texas, that physically prevented federal Border Patrol agents from entering the area, processing migrants in those areas, or providing assistance to drowning victims. According to the DOJ, the Border Patrol was unable to aid an “[unconscious subject floating on top of the water”](https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/23/23A607/294669/20240102145055112_23A%20DHS%20v.%20Texas%20app.pdf) because of these barriers. Federal law, moreover, provides that Border Patrol agents may “[have access to private lands](https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:8%20section:1357%20edition:prelim)), but not dwellings, for the purpose of patrolling the border to prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States.” So Texas claimed the power to use razor wire to prevent federal officers from performing their duties, in direct violation of a federal statute. Nevertheless, four justices dissented from the Court’s order allowing the Border Patrol to cut the razor wire when necessary to do their jobs. This dispute over razor wire is one of at least three ongoing legal disputes between Texas and the United States over who controls the border. The Biden administration also sued Texas, in a case known as [_United States v. Abbott_](https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.ca5.215588/gov.uscourts.ca5.215588.98.0.pdf), seeking to remove a 1,000-foot floating barrier Texas erected in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass. At least [one body was found trapped in this barrier](https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/03/texas-mexico-buoys-body-rio-grande-eagle-pass/#:~:text=Texas%20authorities%20believe%20the%20person,the%20buoys%20along%20the%20river.). Meanwhile, a third case, [_United States v. Texas_](https://www.justice.gov/opa/media/1330861/dl?inline=), challenges a Texas state law that purports to give state judges the power to issue deportation orders. That law will take effect in early March unless a court intervenes. At least two of these lawsuits — the razor wire case and the challenge to the state-authorized deportations — should be slam dunks for the federal government under decisions like _Arizona_ and _Hines_. But Republicans have long railed against federal primacy in the immigration space. And, as the narrow vote in the razor wire case suggests, many of the GOP-appointed justices appear to have embraced their political party’s stance on this issue. ### Why the federal government has virtually exclusive authority over immigration So why do states play such a diminished role in immigration policy? A partial answer can be found in the [Constitution’s Supremacy Clause](https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlevi), which states that federal law and federal treaty obligations “shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” This is why the _Homeland Security_ case — the razor wire case recently decided by the Supreme Court — should have been a clear-cut victory for the federal government. There is a federal law explicitly stating that Border Patrol agents may enter other people’s land “for the purpose of patrolling the border to prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States.” Under the Constitution, that law is supreme over any state law or policy. This principle, that federal law overcomes state law when the two conflict, is known as “preemption,” and preemption is particularly strong in the immigration context. As the Supreme Court held in _Hines_, preemption in immigration cases extends not just to federal laws that explicitly conflict with those in a state, but also to any area where [Congress](https://www.vox.com/congress) has enacted a “[complete scheme of regulation](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/312/52)” governing an aspect of US immigration policy. _Hines_ involved a Pennsylvania law that required non-citizens 18 years of age or older to register with the state, “receive an alien identification card and carry it at all times,” and to present this card upon demand to police officers and other state officials. At the time, federal law also required non-citizen immigrants to register with the federal government, but the federal law did not provide for ID cards or specify many of the requirements imposed by the Pennsylvania regime. In striking down this Pennsylvania law, the Court warned that states must play an exceedingly limited role in immigration policy because of the [risk that a single state could damage US relations with other nations](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/312/52). “One of the most important and delicate of all international relationships,” _Hines_ explained, “has to do with the protection of the just rights of a country’s own nationals when those nationals are in another country.” The Court added that “international controversies of the gravest moment, sometimes even leading to war, may arise from real or imagined wrongs” inflicted on the citizens of one nation by another. That does not mean that the United States must treat every single foreign national with caution or deference. But it does mean that, if the United States decides to risk an international incident by treating a foreign national harshly, that decision should come from a government that is accountable to the entire American people — and not just to the people of one state. “The Federal Government, representing as it does the collective interests of the forty-eight states, is entrusted with full and exclusive responsibility for the conduct of affairs with foreign sovereignties,” the Court said in an opinion that was handed down before Alaska and Hawaii became states. Thus, “for national purposes, embracing our relations with foreign nations, we are but one people, one nation, one power.” One corollary to this rule of federal supremacy, _Hines_ also held, is that comprehensive federal regulation over immigration-related matters preempts state regulation that touches on similar matters, even if the federal law does not explicitly say that state laws are preempted. In the Court’s words, > where the federal government, in the exercise of its superior authority in this field, has enacted a complete scheme of regulation and has therein provided a standard for the registration of aliens, states cannot, inconsistently with the purpose of Congress, conflict or interfere with, curtail or complement, the federal law, or enforce additional or auxiliary regulations. The same rule should apply to the not-yet-in-effect Texas law permitting state courts to issue deportation orders. Just like the Pennsylvania registration scheme at issue in _Hines_, Texas is stepping into an area that Congress has comprehensively regulated with its law allowing state courts to order deportations. Federal law provides for a network of immigration officials and [specialized courts](https://www.justice.gov/eoir/immigration-court-information) that determine which immigrants may remain in the United States and which ones must be deported. Texas may neither “curtail or complement” these courts with its own state-level immigration system. Nevertheless, state laws seeking to undermine _Hines_ now seem likely to arise whenever a Democrat is in the White House. The [2012 _Arizona_ case](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/11-182#writing-11-182_OPINION_3) involved such a state law, known as SB 1070, which sought to “discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens” by giving state police new authority to arrest and detain individuals they had “probable cause to believe ... has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” Yet while the Supreme Court in 2012 was quite conservative, it did not bite on this effort to undercut _Hines_ and instead blocked several key provisions of SB 1070. _Arizona_ was a 5–3 decision, with Republican appointees Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy crossing over to vote with three liberal justices (Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal Obama appointee, was recused from the case). Texas’s deportation law is probably best understood as an attempt to relitigate the _Arizona_ case, but to do it with a much more conservative, and [much more partisan](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2023/7/8/23784320/supreme-court-2022-term-affirmative-action-religion-voting-rights-abortion), Supreme Court. Since 2012, Kennedy left the Court and was replaced by Trump-appointee Brett Kavanaugh — a fairly hardline conservative who [dissented from the recent _Homeland Security_ order](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/1/22/24047314/supreme-court-texas-homeland-security-razor-wire-eagle-pass-biden). Meanwhile, [Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg](https://www.vox.com/21446222/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-dead-supreme-court), a liberal feminist icon, died in 2020 and was replaced by conservative [Justice Amy Coney Barrett](https://www.vox.com/2020/9/26/21457704/trump-amy-coney-barrett-supreme-court-nominee) (though Barrett, it is worth noting, joined the majority in _Homeland Security_). If _Hines_ is overruled or undermined, in other words, it will not happen because of any change in American law or the Constitution. Rather, it will happen solely because the Court’s personnel has changed — and the new justices tend to vote with the Republican Party. ### Texas’s arguments in the floating barrier case are less frivolous than their arguments in the other two cases _Hines_ is much less of a factor in the _Abbott_ case, the one challenging the floating barrier blocking a stretch of the Rio Grande, because that case turns not on an immigration law but on a federal statute intended to keep major American waterways unobstructed. ![A muddy river with a long orange line of floats in the middle running parallel to the shore.](https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/1N4RZLoosl4o86o4beNvK9bZtxI=/0x0:542x268/1200x0/filters:focal(0x0:542x268):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/25250513/temp.png) The floating obstruction at issue in the _Abbott_ case. Courtesy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit The floating barrier at the heart of the _Abbott_ case, according to two federal judges who ruled against Texas in this case, “is roughly 1,000 feet long, made up of large four-foot orange buoys fastened together with heavy metal cables and anchored in place with concrete blocks placed systematically on the floor of the Rio Grande.” It also features “a stainless-steel mesh ‘anti-dive net’ extending two feet into the water.” This barrier appears to be [responsible for at least one death by drowning](https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/03/texas-mexico-buoys-body-rio-grande-eagle-pass/#:~:text=Texas%20authorities%20believe%20the%20person,the%20buoys%20along%20the%20river.) — an unidentified victim who most likely was a migrant attempting to cross the southern border into the United States The federal government challenges this barrier not under a federal immigration law but under a statute providing that “the creation of any obstruction not affirmatively authorized by Congress, [to the navigable capacity of any of the waters of the United States](https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.ca5.215588/gov.uscourts.ca5.215588.98.0.pdf) is prohibited,” and forbidding the construction of any “wharf, pier, dolphin, boom, weir, breakwater, bulkhead, jetty, or other structures” in a “navigable river ... of the United States” without approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. This case was previously heard by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a [far-right court](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/12/27/23496264/supreme-court-fifth-circuit-trump-court-immigration-housing-sexual-harrassment) that frequently acts as a rubber stamp for legal theories offered by MAGA litigants. The three Fifth Circuit judges initially assigned to this case, however, included two Democrats and one Republican — and they split along party lines, with the majority agreeing that the floating barrier violates the federal statute. That three-judge panel’s decision is no longer in effect because the [full Fifth Circuit agreed to rehear the case](https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/17/texas-river-border-buoys-to-stay-in-place-while-5th-circuit-rehears-case-00136125) in a process known as “en banc” — a process that, among other things, allows the full court’s right-wing majority to reconsider decisions that were randomly assigned to panels with a Democratic majority. In any event, the panel divided on whether the particular stretch of river that contains the floating barrier qualifies as a “navigable” waterway under the relevant federal law. Judge Dana Douglas, the Biden appointee who authored the panel’s majority opinion, pointed to the fact that federal law [defines what constitutes a “navigable” waterway quite expansively](https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.ca5.215588/gov.uscourts.ca5.215588.98.0.pdf). Among other things, the relevant federal regulation provides that “a determination of navigability, once made, applies laterally over the entire surface of the waterbody, and is not extinguished by later actions or events which impede or destroy navigable capacity.” Douglas also points to several official federal documents which concluded that the relevant section of the Rio Grande is navigable, including a 2011 determination by the Army Corps that this river is navigable from “the Zapata-Webb county line upstream to the point of intersection of the Texas-New Mexico state line and Mexico,” and a 1984 determination by the US Coast Guard that the Rio Grande “was listed among the navigable waters of the United States pursuant to treaties with Mexico and for Coast Guard regulatory purposes.” In dissent, Judge Don Willett, a Trump judge, essentially argues that these determinations by expert federal agencies were wrong and that they misread two longstanding treaties. It’s doubtful that Willett, a lawyer with no training in engineering, hydrology, or maritime navigation, reached a more accurate conclusion than two federal agencies with considerable expertise in such matters. But Willett does make a plausible case that the relevant section of the river has not historically been used very much by commercial vessels. Among other things, he points to a 1975 Army Corps study which found that “there was ‘no \[then-current\] commercial activity occurring within’ that stretch of the river.” So this does appear to be an edge case. It’s not surprising that migrants would prefer to cross the Rio Grande at a narrow point that does not lend itself to easy commercial navigation. Nevertheless, given that federal regulations explicitly state that “a determination of navigability, once made, applies laterally over the entire surface of the waterbody,” Willett is on very shaky ground by trying to second-guess a series of official determinations that the Rio Grande is navigable — many of which predate the _Abbott_ litigation by decades. ### Gov. Abbott’s public rhetoric about these disputes has focused on his worst legal argument On Wednesday, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled against him in the razor wire case, Abbott [released an angry statement](https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1750235544951349275/photo/1) accusing the federal government of breaking “the compact between the United States and the States” by opposing Abbott’s preferred border policies. He also claimed that he has the authority to act against the federal government’s wishes because he “declared an invasion under Article I, § 10, Clause 3 to invoke Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself.” This is, to put it mildly, a terrible legal argument. The [clause of the Constitution](https://constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/articles/article-i?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAzc2tBhA6EiwArv-i6cuaN6iT508IQyWCVXThdQ3dNEMcQDV5qrrL9oQphYUZk-QmlohOjhoCu7kQAvD_BwE) that Abbott references provides that “no State shall ... engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.” One thing that immediately stands out after reading this language is that it does not authorize any state to do anything. Rather, this clause is a prohibition on certain state actions; it forbids states from waging “War” except in limited circumstances. It is very odd to read a provision of the Constitution that limits state power as giving a state the power to violate federal law. Abbott’s argument that a rush of migrants trying to enter the United States constitutes an “invasion,” moreover, was [rejected by no less of an authority than James Madison](https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-17-02-0202). In an 1800 document, Madison wrote that “invasion is an operation of war ... And as the removal of alien friends has appeared to be no incident to a general state of war, it cannot be incident to a partial state, or a particular modification of war.” In other words, undocumented migrants from non-hostile nations are neither an “invasion” nor are they something a state can wage “War” against. Federal courts, moreover, have previously [agreed with Madison](https://reason.com/volokh/2023/08/10/texas-is-wrong-to-equate-immigration-and-drug-smuggling-with-invasion/). As one federal appeals court concluded in a [1996 opinion](https://www.casemine.com/judgement/us/5914831eadd7b049344a1b96/amp), “\[I\]n order for a state to be afforded the protections of the Invasion Clause, it must be exposed to armed hostility from another political entity, such as another state or foreign country that is intending to overthrow the state’s government.” Immigration, even by people who do so illegally, does not constitute “armed hostility from another political entity.” All of which is a long way of saying that, if the courts apply longstanding legal principles, Abbott should lose all three of these cases — and he should absolutely lose the two cases seeking to undermine _Hines_’s conclusion that states may only play an extremely limited role in setting immigration policy because of the danger that a state may harm the US’s relationship with a foreign power. But Abbott is betting that the Supreme Court’s current majority won’t care what established law has to say about his border policy.
2024-02-04
  • Most people know by now about the border war between Texas and the United States playing out along the banks of the Rio Grande. Less obvious, but no less consequential, is an emerging border war inside the Supreme Court. At the physical border are 29 miles of coiled razor wire on the United States side of the river, put in place by the Texas National Guard on orders from Gov. Greg Abbott. Its ostensible purpose is to stop what Governor Abbott, a Republican, calls an unchecked “invasion” of undocumented migrants. It has had the added and hardly unpredictable effect of barring access to the border by the federal Border Patrol agents. The agents responded by cutting some of the wire. Texas in turn sued the federal government for, of all things, trespass. The state lost in Federal District Court on the grounds that the United States is immune from suits of this type. But the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit gave Texas what it wanted: an injunction to bar border patrol agents from tampering with the wires, except for rescue operations, to last until the appeals court decides the legal merits of the state’s case. The court is scheduled to hear arguments on the case on Wednesday. In contrast to the actual border, the line inside the Supreme Court that I call the notional border divides the two groups of justices who responded in opposite ways to the federal government’s urgent request to vacate the Fifth Circuit’s injunction. A bare majority of five justices granted the government’s application last week. The other four — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — would have left it in place. Obviously, Supreme Court justices take opposite sides on all kinds of cases, and we don’t ascribe their differences to an internal border war. But the metaphor is apt in the context of a case that raises such a profound issue of governing authority, one that has largely lain dormant since the days when Southern governors stood in schoolhouse doors in defiance of desegregation orders. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F04%2Fopinion%2Ftexas-border-supreme-court-immigration.html&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F04%2Fopinion%2Ftexas-border-supreme-court-immigration.html) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? [Log in](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F04%2Fopinion%2Ftexas-border-supreme-court-immigration.html&asset=opttrunc). Want all of The Times? [Subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F04%2Fopinion%2Ftexas-border-supreme-court-immigration.html).
2024-02-29
  • ![Trump looking stern with an American flag behind him. ](https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/mwPmUts22eD3COSahCkECdFOaUU=/0x0:4000x2667/1200x800/filters:focal(1680x1014:2320x1654)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/73172347/1229490611.0.jpg) Trump’s immigration policies seek to build on those he implemented in his first term. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images If you’re looking for a window into just how extreme another [Donald Trump](https://www.vox.com/donald-trump) term could be — even compared to his first — the immigration [policies](https://www.vox.com/policy) he’s touted provide a clear preview. Along with reupping his old ideas, Trump has [spoken at length](https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-doubles-anti-immigration-rhetoric-pledging-overseas-troops/story?id=105742395) about how he intends to scale up his past policies, calling for the “[largest domestic deportation operation in American history](https://www.foxcarolina.com/2024/02/11/trump-calls-largest-domestic-deportation-operation/).” He’s focused, too, on bringing back wide-ranging raids to [round up](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/11/us/politics/trump-2025-immigration-agenda.html) undocumented immigrants and setting up new camps where [they’d be forcibly detained](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/11/us/politics/trump-2025-immigration-agenda.html). And he’s interested in testing out proposals he didn’t get to last term, such as [severely limiting birthright citizenship](https://www.vox.com/politics/2024/1/21/24044381/trump-attacks-nikki-haley-birthright-citizenship). Essentially, Trump’s second-term [immigration policy](https://www.vox.com/immigration) is shaping up to be much like his first, but even harsher. Take Trump’s proposal for a new [travel ban](https://www.vox.com/2018/4/27/17284798/travel-ban-scotus-countries-protests), a policy imposed during his first term: “When I return to office, \[it’s\] coming back even bigger than before and much stronger than before,” [Trump said in a July 2023 speech](https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-bring-back-travel-ban-muslim-countries/). That 2016 ban temporarily barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US before it was struck down by the courts (only [to return in updated form](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/26/15873722/muslim-ban-supreme-court-who-included)). On his first day in office, [President Joe Biden rescinded the ban](https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/01/20/day-one-us-president-biden-reverses-odious-travel-ban). This time around, Trump is weighing expanding this ban to encompass people from even more places, including [Afghanistan](https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/donald-trump-muslim-ban-immigration-2024-1234730150/) and [Gaza](https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-vows-expand-travel-ban-gaza-rcna120711), and to bar those who express [“communist” and “Marxist” views](https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-alien-enemies-act-travel-ban-deport-drug-dealers-gang-members-rcna108121). Much of what’s driving Trump’s hardline immigration policies is how they [resonate](https://abcnews.go.com/538/immigration-driving-support-gop-primary/story?id=106777173) with [Republican base voters](https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fox-news-voter-analysis-immigration-issues-republicans), including those who subscribe to [xenophobic ideas](https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-analysis-most-republicans-agree-with-poisoning-the-blood-language/) of [keeping migrants out](https://www.npr.org/2022/08/03/1115175247/talk-of-invasion-moves-from-the-fringe-to-the-mainstream-of-gop-immigration-mess) and economic claims about immigrants purportedly taking jobs or abusing benefits. Additionally, a recent surge in migrant apprehensions across the southern border, as well as an influx of migrants in major cities across the country, has put the issue more prominently in the news, and provided a platform for Republicans — Trump included — to argue the current administration doesn’t have immigration under control. Two developments could make Trump’s immigration policy in 2025 more viable than it was in his first term as well. Trump is reportedly planning to [staff his next administration with loyalists](https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2024/01/donald-trump-2024-reelection-cabinet-appointments/676121/?gift=ZwhhnrLDlBeUcY3rJzh_l5OUIf_FC4oGeaDqbWwsvu0&utm_source=copy-link&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share) who will find a way to execute his vision, unlike some of the staffers who’ve tried to restrain him in the past. And changes to the judiciary because of Trump’s appointments — including the stacking of the [Supreme Court](https://www.vox.com/scotus) with his nominees — could mean a better legal reception for his policies. Biden has also added a high number of justices to the federal judiciary, but Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court as well as powerful appeals panels like the [Fifth Circuit](https://www.theguardian.com/law/2021/nov/15/fifth-circuit-court-appeals-most-extreme-us) have skewed key parts of the judiciary for the foreseeable future. “2025 won’t feel like 2017,” Todd Schulte, the president of FWD.us, an immigration rights advocacy group that has fought Trump’s policies, told Vox. “2025 will feel radically different. And \[people\] should expect that when Donald Trump comes into office, families will be torn apart at the border and families will be torn apart in the United States.” The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about his plans. His advisers have made his ambitions clear, however. As Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s chief immigration advisers, put it in an interview with the [New York Times](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/11/us/politics/trump-2025-immigration-agenda.html): “Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to implement the most spectacular migration crackdown.” ### Trump’s immigration policies are now even more extreme Trump and his advisers misleadingly claim that bringing back and augmenting past policies is necessary because a recent wave of immigrants is capitalizing on public services and allegedly sowing crime and disorder in different states and cities. Using rhetoric that echoes Nazis and authoritarians, Trump has made incendiary and racist statements about how immigrants are “[poisoning the blood of our country](https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-sparks-republican-backlash-saying-immigrants-are-poisoning-blood-rcna130493)” and coming to the US from “[mental institutions](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/12/18/trump-immigrants-invasion-dehumanizing/),” all of which are discriminatory and unfounded. Despite this, his calls for harsher policies have taken on a new tenor as places like New York City and Chicago have grappled with an influx of migrants in the last year, and as local leaders have called for more federal funding to assist them in providing resources like shelter. Summarizing the GOP’s position in a statement to Vox, [Lora Ries](https://www.heritage.org/staff/lora-ries), the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, argued: “The Biden Administration has erased our borders and the line between illegal and legal immigration.” Implicit in this stance is that Trump’s policies would expand immigration restrictions and take on the issue in an even more punitive way. Below are some of the proposals that Trump’s team has laid out — and how they would work: **Mass deportations:** A centerpiece of Trump’s immigration proposals is heavily inspired by [a 1954 policy](https://www.vox.com/2015/11/11/9714842/operation-wetback) implemented by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who deported hundreds of thousands of undocumented Mexican workers during his administration. As part of a program called “Operation Wetback,” which referenced a racist slur used to describe Mexican migrants, border control agents identified and detained undocumented people and forced them onto planes and trains to Mexico. Trump has said he hopes to institute something similar, with the goal of completing annual deportations that number in the millions. That figure would be much higher than the number of deportations any recent administration — including Trump’s — has conducted. As part of this effort, Trump’s team has said they’d like to capitalize on a policy known as “expedited removal,” which allows the government to rapidly remove undocumented people without a hearing. Under most administrations (including the current one), this policy [was only applied](https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/dhs-withdraws-trump-era-rule-that-expanded-quick-deportations-2022-03-18/#:~:text=DHS%20in%20the%202019%20rule,for%20up%20to%20two%20years.) to people who had been in the US for 14 days or less, and who were within a 100-mile radius of the US border. In his first term, however, Trump expanded it — using it to deport anyone who couldn’t prove that they’d been in the US for more than two years. Immigration experts have argued policies like this would amount [to a nationwide “show me your papers”](https://www.aila.org/aila-files/18AFC0C5-F7B5-4494-BF81-AB1A7D69DB7D/23121931.pdf?1703012944) rule, and, as was the case with Eisenhower’s program, could also result in [citizens and legal residents](https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/11/455613993/it-came-up-in-the-debate-here-are-3-things-to-know-about-operation-wetback) being mistakenly deported. **Raids:** Miller tells the Times that there will be renewed attempts to conduct broad raids to detain undocumented immigrants that don’t focus on any specific individual, but that include large sweeps of workplaces and other public areas. Additionally, Trump’s campaign has said that he’ll seek to “deputize the National Guard [and local law enforcement](https://www.donaldjtrump.com/issues)” to assist with these removals in jurisdictions that are open to supporting the effort. Workplace raids were a feature of Trump’s first term, but [they’ve since been ended by Biden](https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/12/politics/ice-workplace-raids/index.html). Under Trump, the US saw [the largest workplace raids in a decade,](https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-us-news-ap-top-news-arrests-immigration-bbcef8ddae4e4303983c91880559cf23) during which immigration officials targeted seven Mississippi poultry plants and apprehended 680 people. [Trump’s raids](https://www.govexec.com/management/2019/07/how-ice-enforcement-has-changed-under-trump-administration/158766/) also differed from those under his predecessor, because Obama’s immigration enforcement tended to prioritize people who were threats to [national security](https://www.vox.com/defense-and-security), people with criminal convictions, and people who had been in the US for shorter amounts of time. Obama was still nicknamed [the “deporter-in-chief,”](https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obamas-deportation-policy-numbers/story?id=41715661) however, for how expansive his policies were. In comparison, Trump’s targeting was even more indiscriminate. Any new raids are set to both build on the scope of past ones — and continue to expand their reach. Such policies have been criticized by immigration advocates, who note that these raids are traumatic and stressful, and that they [often violate people’s due process rights](https://www.nilc.org/issues/workersrights/worksite-raids/). **Detention camps:** Trump has expressed an interest in opening up detention camps where the US government can hold undocumented immigrants — both those apprehended at the border and inside the country — while their cases are being processed. Presently, undocumented people don’t typically have to wait in a detention center while they await their trial, a period that could last months to years given how severe the [immigration case backlog](https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/these-states-have-the-largest-immigration-court-backlogs) is. Trump would attempt to make detention a requirement while these cases are being considered. The US doesn’t currently have sufficient space and facilities, let alone funding, to house the number of people who would be detained under Trump’s policy. To solve this problem, federal officials would build new camps, [resembling existing ICE detention facilities](https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/12/us/migrant-children-tent-camp-texas.html), according to Miller. Little is known about what such camps would ultimately include, but one possible example is a tent city that the [Trump administration](https://www.vox.com/trump-administration) built for [unaccompanied migrant children in Tornillo, Texas](https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/us/migrant-children-shelter-tent-city-tornillo-homestead.html). That tent city — which was eventually shuttered — housed 2,000 minors and was criticized for failing to provide sufficient [health care](https://www.vox.com/health-care) access. UCLA immigration law professor [Hiroshi Motomura](https://law.ucla.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/hiroshi-motomura) noted that efforts to establish these camps would probably face legal challenges as well as potential public outcry. Such camps would infringe on immigrants’ civil rights and likely subject them to harsh living conditions. “It’s going to remind people of Japanese American incarceration,” Motomura told Vox. “I think a big part of the American public would recoil at some of these things if they’re actually out there.” **Suspending refugee resettlement:** Trump sharply cut the cap on refugees during his first term and he’s committed to suspending refugee resettlement if he retakes office. That would mean another sharp drop in the number of refugees that the US takes in even [as the number of displaced people](https://hias.org/news/unhcr-forced-displacement-grew-21-2022-now-110-million-worldwide/) around the world has grown. The US has long been known as one of the most welcoming countries to refugees in the entire world, though the number of people who were accepted in [Trump’s first term dropped 80 percent](https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-politics-virus-outbreak-immigration-immigration-policy-1f8c91e31fba158126f8e91c1453b13f) compared to that of his predecessor, undermining that perception. Biden has increased the refugee cap to 125,000 people per year, a major uptick from the 15,000 people per year Trump had reduced it to in 2021. The [Biden administration](https://www.vox.com/joe-biden) has also admitted tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees outside of this cap, and it’s unlikely Trump would continue these programs. Such changes would leave tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war and poverty with limited recourse — and places to go. **Ending Temporary Protected Status programs**: Under a program known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, people fleeing hardships in their country of origin are able to live and work in the US temporarily. (TPS, unlike refugee status, does not guarantee a legal pathway to citizenship, though it can be renewed.) The Biden administration has extended the number of people who qualify for TPS, adding 400,000 Venezuelan migrants to the program. Eliminating TPS is an effort Trump would resurrect, and that would likely go to the courts again. Were the administration actually successful in doing away with TPS, hundreds of thousands of people [who’ve lived in the US for years](https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-temporary-protected-status#chapter-title-0-6) could be forced to leave. **Making seeking asylum harder:** Trump also intends to revive the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires people seeking asylum at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their claims are being processed. After the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration had the right to dismantle this program, it was shut down in 2022. Additionally, [Trump hopes to use the Title 42 policy](https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-immigration-proposals-2024-deportations/) — which allows presidents to temporarily throttle migration during [public health](https://www.vox.com/public-health) emergencies — once more to bar migrants from entering the US on the grounds that they would be bringing in contagious illnesses. (That premise has previously been deemed false and [refuted by public health experts](https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/research/programs/program-forced-migration-health/voices/epidemiologists-public-health-experts-reiterate-urgent-call-end-title-42).) Immigration advocates have raised concerns that both programs increase the dangers migrants face after they’ve been expelled or while waiting in Mexico, including [exposure to kidnapping and trafficking](https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/title-42-and-its-impact-on-migrant-families/#:~:text=Research%20suggests%20Title%2042%20expulsions,well%2Dbeing%20of%20migrant%20families.&text=Physicians%2C%20epidemiologists%2C%20and%20public%20health,protecting%20individuals%20from%20COVID%2D19.). **Ending DACA:** Trump has made clear that he will again try to impose policies that the courts once opposed, including ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields about [580,000 undocumented people](https://www.vox.com/politics/2023/9/15/23874992/daca-immigration-ruling-biden-regulation-dreamers) who came to the US as children, from deportation. [In June 2020](https://www.vox.com/2020/6/18/21249594/daca-supreme-court-trump-dreamers-ruling), the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s attempts to sunset the program, which has faced additional court challenges since. Those challenges have led judges to [bar new applicants from the program](https://www.vox.com/politics/2023/9/15/23874992/daca-immigration-ruling-biden-regulation-dreamers) while allowing current recipients to continue receiving benefits. If Trump were to successfully end DACA, it could be devastating for the thousands of people it covers and put them in a new state of legal limbo. **Reviving family separation hasn’t been ruled out:** [Trump has declined to rule out](https://www.reuters.com/world/us/trump-refuses-rule-out-new-migrant-family-separations-allies-are-wary-2023-11-27/) a potential resumption of family separations, a hardline “zero-tolerance” policy that was [extremely controversial in his first term](https://www.vox.com/2018/6/22/17479552/immigration-tender-age-family-separation). Under that policy, parents seeking asylum at the southern border were separated from their children and detained in separate facilities as they awaited legal proceedings. Thousands of children and parents were separated in this way, prompting widespread backlash and Trump to end the practice in 2018. In 2021, the Biden administration officially rescinded the “zero-tolerance” policy that undergirded family separations. Were Trump to revive it, the effects could be traumatic and devastating for migrant families seeking asylum in the US. **Attacks on birthright citizenship:** Currently, birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. Trump has said he’d announce a new executive order that bars the children of undocumented immigrants born in the US from obtaining birthright citizenship. This policy would almost certainly be immediately contested in court, and would probably be among the most difficult of Trump’s proposals to implement. He’s said he wants to go after birthright citizenship because that would reduce the motivation for undocumented migrants to enter the US. According to the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration think tank that backs liberal proposals, this policy could increase the population of undocumented people [by 4.7 million by 2050](https://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/repealing-birthright-citizenship-unintended-consequences) given the number of children who have two unauthorized parents in the US. Additionally, a move like this would undercut a longstanding tenet of the US immigration system, and the broader message it sends about who belongs in the US and who qualifies as a citizen. ### A second Trump administration will have learned lessons from the first Key differences could make a second Trump administration more effective at instituting these policies, too. During his first administration, Trump was able to nominate three Supreme Court justices, tilting the court 6-3 in favor of conservative justices. He added a staggering number of judges to circuit courts and lower courts as well. Additionally, [the Supreme Court’s 2022 _Aleman Gonzalez_ decision](https://harvardlawreview.org/print/vol-136/garland-v-aleman-gonzalez/#:~:text=Aleman%20Gonzalez%2C%205%20the%20Supreme,immigrants%20hanging%20in%20the%20balance.) determined that lower courts couldn’t block certain national immigration policies from going into effect and that only the Supreme Court could do so. This means many major policy changes Trump could attempt would likely be decided by the Supreme Court — which, again, has an ideological bent in his favor. [As the Times reported](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/11/us/politics/trump-2025-immigration-agenda.html), Trump is also intent on bringing on staffers and advisers who support his aims, unlike some who previously tried to curb him. [There are also legal takeaways from his first term](https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/16/politics/trump-agenda-second-term/index.html) that Trump staffers would be able to apply if they try to resurrect contentious past proposals. “Having attorneys who back his positions and who, through the course of his first term, developed the experience needed to write regulations that could withstand challenges in court — those would be important developments in terms of how effective he could be,” says [Kathleen Bush-Joseph](https://www.migrationpolicy.org/about/staff/kathleen-bush-joseph), a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. These factors could mean that Trump’s immigration policy might succeed where he once failed. They could suggest, too, that he’s able to build on what he achieved in his first term and magnify its impact even more. “The tools that the president would have, were he to come back, to accomplish terrible aims are much, much, much worse and larger in 2025, than they were in 2017,” says Schulte.
  • A federal court in Austin on Thursday blocked a Texas law that would allow state and local police officers to arrest migrants who cross from Mexico without authorization, siding with the federal government in a legal showdown over immigration enforcement. The ruling, by Judge David A. Ezra of the Western District of Texas, was a victory for the Biden administration, which had argued that the new state law violated federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution. The Texas law had been set to go into effect on March 5; it will now be put on hold while a federal lawsuit to overturn the law moves forward. In granting a preliminary injunction on Thursday, Judge Ezra, who was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan, said that the federal government was likely to eventually win the case on the merits. “No matter how emphatic Texas’s criticism of the federal government’s handling of immigration on the border may be to some,” Judge Ezra wrote in his 114-page decision, “disagreement with the federal government’s immigration policy does not justify a violation of the Supremacy Clause” of the Constitution. He said that, among the many legal problems presented by the Texas law, it would “moot many asylum applications” and “seriously harm” relations with Mexico. He said the provision of the law allowing state judges to order the removal of noncitizens is “patently unconstitutional.” Gov. Greg Abbott, who has moved aggressively over the past three years to create a state-level system of border enforcement, said he would immediately appeal the decision. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F29%2Fus%2Ftexas-border-law-court-injunction.html&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F29%2Fus%2Ftexas-border-law-court-injunction.html) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? [Log in](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F29%2Fus%2Ftexas-border-law-court-injunction.html&asset=opttrunc). Want all of The Times? [Subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F02%2F29%2Fus%2Ftexas-border-law-court-injunction.html).
  • The Biden administration is suing the State of Texas over a new state law that would empower state and local police officers to arrest migrants who cross from Mexico without authorization. On Thursday, a federal court in Austin [temporarily blocked implementation of the law](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/29/us/texas-border-law-court-injunction.html), which was set to go into effect on March 5, ruling that the statute ran afoul of federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The judge, in issuing a preliminary injunction, said that Texas would very likely lose the case on the merits. The case has far-reaching implications for the future of immigration law and border enforcement and has been closely watched across the country. It comes amid fierce political fighting between the parties, and within them, over how to handle illegal immigration. And it follows the [impeachment by House Republicans of the Homeland security secretary](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/13/us/politics/mayorkas-impeachment-house.html), and the [failure of a bipartisan Senate deal](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/04/us/politics/senate-border-deal-immigration-ukraine.html) to bolster security at the border. Texas argued that its law was necessary to deter migrants from crossing illegally, as has happened in record numbers over the past year. The Biden administration argues that the law conflicts with federal law and violates the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government authority over immigration matters. The judge hearing the case, David A. Ezra of the Western District of Texas, was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan. “No matter how emphatic Texas’ criticism of the federal government’s handling of immigration on the border may be to some,” Judge Ezra wrote in his 114-page decision, “disagreement with the federal government’s immigration policy does not justify a violation of the Supremacy Clause” of the Constitution. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Farticle%2Ftexas-border-law-challenge-explainer.html&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Farticle%2Ftexas-border-law-challenge-explainer.html) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? [Log in](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Farticle%2Ftexas-border-law-challenge-explainer.html&asset=opttrunc). Want all of The Times? [Subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Farticle%2Ftexas-border-law-challenge-explainer.html).
2024-03-04
  • The [Biden administration](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/biden-administration) asked the US supreme court on Monday to take emergency action against a Texas law which would make unauthorized entry into Texas a state crime. The move came after a federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision, giving [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) state law enforcement officials the authority to arrest and jail anyone they suspect has illegally crossed the border. If the supreme court does look at the case, it would see the US’s top legal body weigh in on the issue of immigration, likely to be a core battleground of the 2024 presidential election. It would also add another highly controversial case to the court’s roster of other hot-button issues this year, ranging from voting rights to gun laws. The Texas law, senate bill 4, has been contested on the grounds it allows individual states to create its own immigration laws – an issue which officially falls under the purview of the federal government. The US justice department [sued](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/dec/30/biden-texas-migrants-state-police) Texas and its hardline Republican governor, Greg Abbott, in January to block the law from taking effect. The justice department argued Texas’s law violated the US constitution which asserts “the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions,” according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. A federal judge in Austin blocked the state from implementing the law in February, but the fifth US circuit court of appeals granted a stay, or a ruling to stop the lower court’s order from taking effect. [Download original document](https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/24455804/23a814.pdf) The supreme court now has until 9 March to intervene. The Texas government says, according to the US and Texas constitutions, it has the right to implement its own immigration laws in the event of an “[invasion](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/29/texas-invasion-clause-migrants-racist-dangerous)”, likening migrants to a public foreign enemy. But legal experts are skeptical of this argument. In its request for the supreme court to intervene, the Biden administration said: “A surge of unauthorized immigration plainly is not an invasion within the meaning of the state war clause. And even if it were, the clause does not permit states to contradict the federal government’s considered response to any invasion that has occurred.” The law has also faced opposition from human rights groups for paving the way for potentially racially profiling people, particularly Latinos, who make up more than 40% of the state’s population. Before the appeals court’s ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union called SB4 an “extreme Texas legislation”. In a [statement](https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/federal-court-blocks-extreme-texas-legislation-that-would-overstep-federal-immigration-law), the ACLU said: “Advocates have warned that the law will separate families and directly lead to racial profiling, subjecting thousands of Black and Brown Texans to the state prison system, which is rife with civil rights abuses.”
2024-03-05
  • ![EL PASO, TEXAS, US - MARCH 3: Migrants attempting to cross the North American side of the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in Texas, United States on March 3, 2024.The Texas government continues to increase security on the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, with a new metal barrier that already extends more than 2.5 kilometers across the Rio Grande.](https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/75F1/production/_132839103_gettyimages-2049068005.jpg)Image source, Getty Images Image caption, Migrants attempt to cross into the US from Mexico, in El Paso, Texas **The US Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a severe Texas law that would allow police to arrest people suspected of crossing the border from Mexico.** The law, if implemented, would be one of the toughest immigration laws passed by any US state in modern history and could upend the relationship between the state and federal governments. Rights groups and the Biden administration have sued to stop it. At the federal government's request, the top US court put the law on hold. The law - known as SB4 - was originally due to come into force on Tuesday, and would make border crossings illegal and punishable with jail time. It also would significantly increase the number of deportations. Under the legislation, local and state police officers would be allowed to make the stops and arrests, except in schools and hospitals, with more limited evidence. Judge David Ezra ruled it was the federal government - rather than individual states - that had jurisdiction over immigration matters. Texas appealed, and an appeals court temporarily suspended Judge Ezra's order over the weekend while it decided whether to allow the state's motion to move forward. But then a further legal development came on Monday, just a day before the law was due to come into effect, when the US Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to intervene. Justice Samuel Alito decided to temporarily block the law until 13 March - and has said Texas has until the end of next Monday to put its arguments forward. The law could still come into force, if the Supreme Court sides with Texas. Immigration is one of the hottest issues of this year's presidential election, especially in Texas where Governor Greg Abbott says there has been a "tidal wave" of illegal immigration. More than 6.3 million migrants - a record high - have been detained crossing into the US illegally during President Biden's time in the White House. Reasons for the spike are complex, however, with some factors pre-dating Mr Biden's tenure. Media caption, Watch: Biden and Trump at the border: How the visits played out Governor Abbott - a Republican who supports Donald Trump - has said the SB4 law is needed to reduce migrant crossings, and that Mr Biden's administration has not done enough. But the federal government says SB4 would create chaos by interfering with its own immigration enforcement. This is not the first time there's been a clash over immigration rules between Texas and Mr Biden - nor the first time the Supreme Court has intervened. [One such row has been over a roughly 30-mile (46-km) razor fence](https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-68064246) which Texas officials installed along the US-Mexico border in a larger effort to deter illegal migration. The Biden administration has opposed it, saying the wire restricts the ability of border agents to process migrants who have already arrived on US soil. Migrants have been known to bypass the fence, swimming and climbing under it, often getting injured in the process. After a row in the courts, in January the US Supreme Court sided with the federal government, and ruled that the wire can be removed.
  • Texas’s plans to arrest people who enter the US illegally and order them to leave the country is headed to the supreme court in a legal showdown over the federal government’s authority over immigration. An order issued on Monday by Justice Samuel Alito puts the new Texas law on hold for at least next week while the high court considers what opponents have called the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since an Arizona law more than a decade ago. [ The unprecedented situation at the US-Mexico border – visualized ](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/feb/07/mexico-border-explained-chart-immigration) The law, known as Senate Bill 4, had been set to take effect on Saturday under a decision by the conservative-leaning fifth US circuit court of appeals. Alito’s order pushed that date back until 13 March and came just hours after the justice department asked the supreme court to intervene. “Make no mistake: SB 4 bypasses federal immigration authority and threatens the integrity of our nation’s constitution and laws,” a coalition of groups that sued over the law, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. The Republican governor, Greg Abbott, signed the law in December as part of a series of escalating measures on the border that have tested the boundaries of how far a state can go to keep people from entering the country. The law would allow state officers to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally. People who are arrested could then agree to a Texas judge’s order to leave the country or face a misdemeanor charge for entering the US illegally. Those who do not leave after being ordered to do so could be arrested again and charged with a more serious felony. The justice department told the supreme court that the law would profoundly alter “the status quo that has existed between the United States and the States in the context of immigration for almost 150 years”. It went on to argue that the law would have “significant and immediate adverse effects” on the country’s relationship with Mexico and “create chaos” in enforcing federal immigration laws in Texas. The federal government cited a 2012 supreme court ruling on an Arizona law that would have allowed police to arrest people for federal immigration violations, often referred to by opponents as the “show me your papers” bill. The divided high court found that the impasse in Washington over immigration reform did not justify state intrusion. The supreme court gave Texas until 11 March to respond. In a statement on Monday, the Texas attorney general’s office said the state’s law mirrored federal law and “was adopted to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border, which hurts Texans more than anyone else”. The federal government’s emergency request to the supreme Court came after a federal appeals court over the weekend stayed the US district judge David Ezra’s sweeping rejection of the law. In a 114-page ruling on Thursday, Ezra rebuked Texas’s immigration enforcement and brushed off claims by Republicans about an “invasion” along the southern border due to record-high illegal crossings. Ezra added that the law violates the US constitution’s supremacy clause, conflicts with federal immigration law and could get in the way of US foreign relations and treaty obligations. According to Ezra’s ruling, allowing Texas to supersede federal law due to an “invasion” would “amount to nullification of federal law and authority – a notion that is antithetical to the Constitution and has been unequivocally rejected by federal courts since the Civil War”. Republicans who back the law have said it would not target immigrants already living in the US because the two-year statute of limitations on the illegal entry charge would be enforced only along the state’s border with Mexico. Texas has been arresting undocumented people for years under a different program that is based on criminal trespass arrests. Though Ezra said some might sympathize with Texas officials’ concerns about immigration enforcement by the federal government, he said that was not enough to excuse a violation of the US constitution. The battle over the Texas immigration law is one of multiple legal disputes between Texas officials and the [Biden administration](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/biden-administration) over how far the state can go to patrol the Texas-Mexico border and prevent illegal border crossings. Several Republican governors have backed Abbott’s efforts, saying the federal government is not doing enough to enforce existing immigration laws. Some of Abbott’s attempts to impede illegal border crossings have included a floating barrier in the Rio Grande – which Ezra previously blocked and is part of an ongoing legal battle – and placing razor wire along the state’s boundary with Mexico. State guard officers have also blocked US border patrol agents from accessing a riverfront park in Eagle Pass that was previously used by federal agents to process migrants.
2024-03-12
  • ![Men, women, and children carrying backpacks and bags wade through a waist-deep stream to reach the other side, forming a line of people.](https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/63h5Qj7n7o7G7hUMug4TJGc48OM=/0x0:6720x4480/1200x800/filters:focal(4142x1061:5216x2135)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/73200429/2059371103.0.jpg) Migrants cross the US-Mexico border in Texas. David Peinado/NurPhoto via Getty Images For well more than a century, the federal government has enjoyed near exclusive authority over [immigration policy](https://www.vox.com/immigration), while states have largely been restricted to assisting in carrying out federal policies. The [Supreme Court](https://www.vox.com/scotus) has reinforced this rule many times over many decisions, such as [_Truax v. Raich_](https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/239/33/) (1915), which said that “the authority to control immigration — to admit or exclude aliens — is vested solely in the Federal Government.” Texas, however, now wants the Supreme Court to abandon this longstanding constitutional rule, and it thinks that the political tumblers have finally aligned in a way that would lead the Court to do just that. Texas seeks to upend the longstanding balance of power between the federal government and the states through a law, known as SB 4, which [allows Texas state courts to issue deportation orders](https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/23/23A814/302198/20240304170342435_United%20States%20v.%20Texas%20Vacatur%20Application%20SB4%20--%20corrected.pdf) that will be carried out by Texas state officials. The law is now before the Supreme Court in two “[shadow docket](https://www.vox.com/2020/8/11/21356913/supreme-court-shadow-docket-jail-asylum-covid-immigrants-sonia-sotomayor-barnes-ahlman)” cases, known as [_United States v. Texas_](https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/united-states-v-texas-6/) and [_Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy v. McCraw_](https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/las-americas-immigrant-advocacy-v-mccraw/). The Texas law [will go into effect on Wednesday at 5 pm](https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/united-states-v-texas-6/), unless the Supreme Court acts, so it is likely that the Court will hand down some sort of decision before then (although that decision could just be a brief order extending the deadline to some future date). The Supreme Court is as conservative as it’s been since the 1930s, with Republicans controlling six seats on the nine-justice Court. And Texas’s case attempting to seize control of the Texas/Mexico border arrives at the justices’ feet at the same time that an [unusually large wave of migrants are arriving at the border](https://www.vox.com/policy/24066609/immigration-bill-border-migrants-crisis). The reason why the federal government has historically had exclusive authority over nearly all questions of immigration policy is to prevent a single state’s mistreatment of a foreign national from damaging US relations with another nation. Indeed, [_Hines v. Davidowitz_](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/312/52) (1941) warned that “international controversies of the gravest moment, sometimes even leading to war, may arise from real or imagined wrongs” committed against foreign nationals. Which isn’t to say that the United States must always treat foreign citizens with caution or deference — just that a decision that could endanger the entire nation’s relationship with a foreign state should be made by a government that represents the entire nation. SB 4 is not allowed under _Truax_, _Hines_, and countless other decisions, including an Obama-era case involving a very similar Arizona law, [_Arizona v. United States_](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/11-182#writing-11-182_OPINION_3) (2012). But the current Supreme Court has only a weak attachment to following precedent, especially when a precedent is [widely disliked by modern-day Republicans](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2023/7/8/23784320/supreme-court-2022-term-affirmative-action-religion-voting-rights-abortio). So there is at least some risk that the Court’s GOP-appointed majority will allow SB 4 to go into effect. ### How does an unambiguously unconstitutional law wind up before the Supreme Court? To a certain extent, an immigration-related conflict between a red state and the federal government was inevitable the minute a Democrat entered the White House. Under President Obama, Arizona’s Republican government enacted a similarly unconstitutional law, known as SB 1070, which imposed registration requirements on immigrants and which gave state police enhanced authority over suspected undocumented immigrants. The Supreme Court struck down several key provisions of SB 1070 in _Arizona_, in an opinion which also reaffirmed that the national government, and not the states, must have primacy over immigration. “\[I\]t is fundamental that foreign countries concerned about the status, safety, and security of their nationals in the United States [must be able to confer and communicate on this subject with one national sovereign](https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/11-182#writing-11-182_OPINION_3),” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the Court in _Arizona_, “not the 50 separate States.” But Kennedy is no longer on the Court, and he was replaced by the more hardline conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Also gone is [Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg](https://www.vox.com/21446222/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-dead-supreme-court), who joined the majority opinion in _Arizona_, and who died in 2020 and was replaced by Trump appointee [Justice Amy Coney Barrett](https://www.vox.com/2020/9/26/21457704/trump-amy-coney-barrett-supreme-court-nominee). If Kavanaugh and Barrett unite with the three most conservative justices, that’s five votes to overrule _Arizona_, and to bless Texas’s SB 4. Yet, while Republican-led lawsuits pushing harsher US immigration policies [are now](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2023/6/23/23771310/supreme-court-united-states-texas-ice-immigration-drew-tipton-brett-kavanaugh) a [fixture](https://www.vox.com/2023/2/16/23592576/supreme-court-title-42-immigration-border-pandemic) of Democratic administrations, Texas might have a particularly strong political hand right now because of the unusually large number of migrants arriving at the southern US border. For most of the 2010s, US Customs and Border Protection reported about 400,000 to 500,000 “encounters” with migrants at this border every year. Now, that number [stands around 2 million a year](https://www.vox.com/policy/24066609/immigration-bill-border-migrants-crisis). There are several reasons why this uptick in migration is happening now. One of the biggest factors is political instability in many parts of Central America and the Caribbean. For many years, the so-called “[Northern Triangle](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2021/3/22/22335816/border-crisis-migrant-hurricane-eta-iota)” countries — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — were a major source of migration, as citizens of those nations fled corruption, gang violence, and high levels of poverty. This migration remains ongoing, and is now augmented by migrants fleeing an [economic and political crisis in Venezuela](https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-48121148), and [violence and political instability in Haiti](https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/haitians-flee-collapse), among other things. Additionally, the United States recently relaxed its border policy because it could no longer point to the [Covid-19 pandemic](https://www.vox.com/coronavirus-covid19) to justify extraordinary measures. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the [Trump administration](https://www.vox.com/trump-administration) invoked a statute which allows the government to close the border in order to [prevent the spread of a “communicable disease”](https://www.vox.com/2023/2/16/23592576/supreme-court-title-42-immigration-border-pandemic) that is present in a foreign country. This tight border policy [remained in effect well into the Biden administration](https://www.vox.com/politics/23719941/title-42-ending-border-biden-trump), until May of 2023. This policy (which was [known as “Title 42”](https://www.vox.com/politics/23719941/title-42-ending-border-biden-trump)) always stood on dubious legal grounds. It certainly wasn’t effective in keeping Covid from entering the United States. And the idea that we could prevent the spread of this “communicable disease” by locking down the border became less and less defensible as Covid both became ubiquitous in the United States, and ceased to be a global crisis. By spring of 2023, even Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Republican appointed by Trump, openly mocked the suggestion that Title 42 could remain in place. “[The current border crisis is not a COVID crisis](https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/22-592_5hd5.pdf),” wrote Gorsuch. ### SB 4 is one of several illegal steps Texas has taken with respect to the border Texas has since tried to augment a federal border policy that is widely viewed as inadequate with a [series of dubiously legal policies](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/1/27/24051657/supreme-court-texas-border-immigration-greg-abbott-biden-invasion). In addition to enacting SB 4, the state has constructed physical barriers — including razor wire fences and floating obstructions in the Rio Grande — intended to keep migrants out of the country (or, in at least one case, to [cause them to drown](https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/23/23A607/294669/20240102145055112_23A%20DHS%20v.%20Texas%20app.pdf) while trying to enter). In January, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Texas [could not use razor wire to prevent US Border Patrol agents](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/1/27/24051657/supreme-court-texas-border-immigration-greg-abbott-biden-invasion) from entering an area where migrants are present, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Barrett joining the Court’s three Democratic appointees. [President Biden](https://www.vox.com/joe-biden), for what it is worth, agrees with Republicans that legal changes are necessary to limit border crossings. Indeed, he pressed Senate Democrats to [negotiate a bipartisan bill](https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/analysis-senate-border-bill) that would make it harder for migrants to claim asylum, increase funding for immigration officials and detention facilities, and allow the government to close down border crossings if they exceed a certain level. But, after Democratic and Republican negotiators agreed on a bill, much of the GOP abruptly pulled its support. According to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), this happened because presumptive GOP presidential nominee [Donald Trump](https://www.vox.com/donald-trump) told Republicans “[he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it](https://www.vox.com/politics/2024/1/25/24050278/senate-immigration-border-ukraine-trump-mcconnell-romney).” And so, here we are, with an unpopular spike in southern migration overwhelming the US immigration system, and a [Congress](https://www.vox.com/congress) that is unable to address the problem because the leader of the GOP prefers chaos to a solution. Texas Republicans, meanwhile, have their own answer. It just requires the Supreme Court to toss out more than a century of established law, and strip away the United States’ ability to speak with one voice on matters of foreign policy. If Texas prevails in this lawsuit, the consequences will be unpredictable, and could be catastrophic. It would mean, as the Supreme Court warned in _Hines_, that states would gain broad leeway to act against foreign nationals — potentially endangering US relations with our allies, or worse.
2024-03-18
  • The supreme court on Monday extended its block on a Texas law that would give police broad powers to arrest people suspected of illegally entering the US while the legal battle it sparked over immigration authority plays out. Opponents have called the law, known as Senate Bill 4, the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since an Arizona law more than a decade ago, portions of which were struck down by the supreme court. [ Biden appeals to supreme court to block Texas police migrant law ](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/mar/04/biden-asks-supreme-court-block-texas-immigration-law) The Texas attorney general has said the state’s law mirrored federal law and “was adopted to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border, which hurts Texans more than anyone else”. The Biden administration sued to strike down the measure, arguing it would usurp core federal authority on immigration, hurt international relations and create chaos in administering immigration law. Civil rights groups have argued the law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling. A federal judge in Texas struck down the law in late February, but the fifth circuit court of appeals quickly stayed that ruling, leading the federal government to appeal to the supreme court. The supreme court in 2012 struck down key parts of an Arizona law that would have allowed police to arrest people for federal immigration violations, often referred to by opponents as the “show me your papers” bill. The divided high court found then that the impasse in Washington over immigration reform did not justify state intrusion. 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. Several Republican governors have backed the efforts of the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, saying the federal government was not doing enough to enforce existing immigration laws. The case is unfolding as record numbers of asylum seekers arrive in the US and immigration emerges as a central issue in the 2024 election.
2024-03-21
  • ![Migrant being arrested after car chase on 28 March.](https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/181E2/production/_132968789_gettyimages-1885809336.jpg)Image source, Getty Images Image caption, SB4 would give police officers in Texas broad powers to arrest migrants **An appeals court has appeared divided on whether to reject a controversial Texas immigration law in a case that is being closely watched nationwide.** The legislation would let police in Texas arrest and prosecute anyone they think has entered the country illegally, but challengers say the measure usurps federal authority. The law, known as SB4, briefly came into force on Tuesday for a few hours. But it was blocked again amid a legal back and forth between the courts. A New Orleans-based fifth circuit appeals panel of three judges heard arguments in the case on Wednesday morning. Media caption, Watch: 'It's not easy' - Migrants at US border react to strict Texas law They appeared split on the constitutionality of the law and whether it interferes with federal powers as President Joe Biden's administration has argued. They issued no immediate ruling, and it is unclear when they will do so. If they opt to let the law go into effect, the justice department is requesting that its effective date be delayed to allow time to seek emergency action from the Supreme Court. SB4 was due to come into effect on 5 March, but the Biden administration sued in January. Migrant arrivals at the southern US border have risen to record highs during this administration, making it a top concern among American voters in the run-up to November's presidential election. If the courts uphold Texas' new law, other US states could follow. In court on Wednesday, US Judge Priscilla Richman seemed sceptical of allowing the law to take effect while it remains on appeal, due to its novelty. "This is not a power that has been exercised historically by states," Ms Richman, a George W Bush appointee, said. She expressed concern over how SB4 might interfere with federal immigration officials' work. Aaron Nielson, a lawyer for the state, responded: "Texas has a right to defend itself." Judge Andrew Oldham, a Donald Trump appointee, expressed uncertainty over whether the entirety of the law was invalid, which is required to fully block it. Mexico has criticised the new law as anti-immigrant and said it would refuse to accept anyone deported by Texas authorities. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday called the law "draconian" and dehumanising. Should SB4 come back into effect, it would mark a significant shift in how immigration enforcement is handled, as courts have previously ruled that only the federal government can enforce the country's immigration laws - not individual US states. Crossing the US border illegally is already a federal crime, but violations are usually handled as civil cases by the immigration court system. Under SB4, anyone illegally entering or re-entering Texas would face up to 20 years in prison. It is not clear if any migrants were detained while the law was in effect. Historically, the federal government has created laws and regulations on immigration, even though the US Constitution does not explicitly grant it those powers. A Gallup poll released in February suggested that nearly one-third of Americans believe immigration was the single greatest problem the country faced ahead of the government, the economy and inflation. * [Mexico–US border](/news/topics/cgrm5n9g7g4t) * [US immigration](/news/topics/cljevyzxlelt) * [Mexico](/news/topics/crr7mlg0vr2t) * [Texas](/news/topics/cvenzmgyl2dt) * [US politics](/news/topics/cwnpxwzd269t) * [United States](/news/topics/cx1m7zg01xyt)
2024-03-20
  • ![Migrants at the Mexico-Texas border on 7 March](https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/5CD7/production/_132976732_gettyimages-2059261443.jpg)Image source, Getty Images Image caption, It is unclear how Texas would handle removals without Mexico's cooperation. **A controversial Texas law that is the focus of an intense legal battle could soon become one of the toughest immigration measures in any US state.** The law, known as SB4, would allow local and state police to arrest and prosecute undocumented migrants - upending US immigration enforcement. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law last year, but court rulings have stopped Texas from enforcing it. SB4 has been harshly criticised by the Biden administration and rights groups. The law "will not only make communities in Texas less safe, it will also burden law enforcement, and sow chaos and confusion at our southern border", White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. But Mr Abbott and Republican lawmakers have argued that Texas has a legal right to defend against the rising number of migrants, and the Texas governor has frequently alleged that President Joe Biden has failed to secure the US southern border in violation of the law. The governor's office has not responded to the BBC's request for comment. Immigration enforcement has been historically handled by the federal government, as crossing the border is a federal crime and addressed by immigration courts that fall under the justice department. SB4 would change that by allowing Texas police officers to charge people with a newly created state crime - "illegal entry". Under the new law, local and state police in the state can detain individuals who they suspect may have entered the US illegally. Those stops would not be allowed in schools, healthcare facilities and places of worship. If those individuals are found guilty, punishments can range from misdemeanours to felonies. They can carry prison time or fines of up to $2,000 (£1,570). Penalties for illegal re-entry to Texas could go up to 20 years in prison, depending on a person's immigration and criminal history. The law also allows - and in some instances mandates - that Texas judges order people deported from the US. Previously, detained migrants that were not charged with other crimes would be handed over to Customs and Border Protection officers. In a guide for Texans, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - which has sued to stop SB4 - has laid out what it sees as a likely scenario in the event that the law goes into effect. Most SB4 encounters will begin with police officers asking the "suspect" whether they are in the US illegally. If the officer finds or believes that they are, the suspect would then be arrested and taken to a magistrate. They would then have to prove their legal status or be asked to agree to a state deportation. Those who do not agree can be jailed. In practice, however, advocates believe SB4's implementation is likely to be far more complex and murky. Asylum seekers - whose cases are handled by the federal government - could be picked up by Texas law enforcement officers and removed from the country before their asylum cases are processed. Widespread enforcement could also affect Texas businesses, as they rely on the labour that the nearly five million migrants in the state provide. Adam Isacson, a migration and border expert from the Washington Office on Latin America, told the BBC that SB4 could create a "patchwork" enforcement pattern. Different counties might elect to implement the law differently, with some taking more aggressive approaches than others. "A sheriff that has a lot of undocumented people in his community is not going to want to enforce it really strongly, because he needs the cooperation of that community's residents in order to enforce other laws," Mr Isacson said. It is also unclear how removals will be carried out. Mexico has said it would not accept Texas deportations under "any circumstance", and the international boundary is under the jurisdiction of federal authorities. Texas has yet to comment on how local jails - which are in many cases overcrowded - would cope with any influx of people arrested under SB4. Image source, Getty Images Image caption, Texas launched its own unilateral border security programme, Operation Lone Star, in 2021. Governor Abbott has repeatedly said Texas needs SB4 to protect the state - and the wider US - from a "tidal wave" of undocumented migrants crossing America's southern border. He has regularly blamed the federal government and President Joe Biden of failing to adequately stem the migrant numbers, forcing Texas to "defend itself". "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," Mr Abbott said in February. The law is one of a number of steps taken by Texas unilaterally. In March 2021, the state also launched Operation Lone Star, a multi-billion dollar border security programme it has credited with stopping hundreds of thousands of migrants from entering the US. As immigration enforcement is historically handed by the federal government and its immigration courts, this makes major changes to enforcement authorities and even could affect the relationships and agreements between the US and foreign countries. The Biden administration and ACLU - both of which are involved in the legal battle - have argued that SB4 is therefore unconstitutional. The ACLU has also suggested that SB4 could lead to discrimination and racial profiling. "States cannot adopt immigration laws that interfere with the framework enacted by Congress," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in January. The case also has some precedent that will need to be addressed in court. Another controversial immigration law in Arizona, known as SB 1070 or the "show me your papers" law was partially struck down by the US Supreme Court. The judges ruled that federal law already fulfilled that function. "That's the dispute again here, and that's a problem for Texas," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. "In that case, the Supreme Court said that immigration is assigned to the federal government, not individual states." Mexico's government has also reacted negatively to SB4, questioning Texas' ability to enforce immigration laws and warning that it could violate the human rights of over 10 million people of Mexican origin in the state. It plans to file a legal brief outlining the potential effects the law could have on US-Mexico relations. If SB4 takes effect, it could upend the entire US immigration system. Other states might follow Texas' example and adopt their own immigration laws if Governor Abbott's efforts are successful. Already, lawmakers in Iowa have passed a bill making illegal immigration a state crime. It allows state courts to order deportations and to have law enforcement officers escort suspects to ports of entry at the border. The Iowa governor, Kim Reynolds, has not yet signed the bill. Governors and state lawmakers who support Donald Trump and his maga movement "are seeing this as an opportunity to challenge the Supreme Court ruling that struck down SB 1070 in Arizona", Mr Isacson said. He noted that if SB4 is ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court, however, it may "in a blanket way, strike down all other states' attempts" at similar legislation. * [Mexico–US border](/news/topics/cgrm5n9g7g4t) * [US immigration](/news/topics/cljevyzxlelt) * [Texas](/news/topics/cvenzmgyl2dt) * [United States](/news/topics/cx1m7zg01xyt)
  • Texas officials on Wednesday urged a U.S. appeals court to unblock a new law that would allow authorities to arrest and deport migrants, saying the state has been forced to take extraordinary measures to try to stop soaring levels of illegal border crossings. The panel of judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit did not immediately issue a decision after an hour-long hearing on the state’s attempt to exercise immigration powers on the southern border that historically have been under federal control. The state law remains on hold, and the 5th Circuit has scheduled oral arguments for April 3 to consider the law’s constitutionality. The court battle is the latest border policy clash between the Biden administration and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who says the president’s immigration record has been too lax and has hurt his state by creating incentives for illegal entries. Abbott has led a push by Republican-run states to take on a direct role in immigration enforcement that is playing out amid a presidential race in which border security has emerged as a vulnerability for [President Biden](https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/candidates/joe-biden-2024/?itid=lk_inline_manual_5) after three years of record crossings. Illegal crossings along the Mexico border have averaged 2 million per year during Biden’s term, the highest levels the U.S. Border Patrol has ever recorded. Wednesday’s hearing followed a day of legal whiplash in federal court for the [Texas law, known as S.B. 4](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/03/19/texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_10). The Supreme Court briefly allowed the law to take effect, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit [halted the state from enforcing it](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/19/supreme-court-texas-immigration-law/?itid=lk_inline_manual_10) late Tuesday. Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Priscilla Richman asked during the hearing Wednesday how the Texas law would work in practice, listing scenarios that could quickly lead to confusion. “This is the first time, it seems to me, that a state has claimed that they have the right to remove illegal aliens,” Richman said. “This is not something, a power, that historically has been exercised by states, has it?” State officials said they would not deport migrants directly but would hand off detainees to federal officials or take them to border crossings with Mexico. Richman asked what would happen if federal officials, as they have said, refused to carry out an order. She asked what would happen if a foreign national entered the United States via Canada and crossed through several states on their way to Texas. Could they be arrested and deported under Texas’s new law? Aaron Nielson, the Texas solicitor general, said he wasn’t sure. In some cases, they might be arrested; in others, they might not. Nielson said the Texas law is “uncharted.” Nielsen said Texas has the right to arrest people for entering the state illegally. “Texas has decided that we are at the epicenter of this crisis,” he said. “We are on the front line, and we are going to do something about it.” The law’s fate is yet another flash point in the nation’s polarized debate over immigration, which former president [Donald Trump](https://www.washingtonpost.com/donald-trump/?itid=lk_inline_manual_21), the likely Republican nominee in the [2024 election](https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/election-2024/?itid=lk_inline_manual_21), has made a central theme of his campaign against Biden. Whatever the 5th Circuit decides, the status of the law is likely to go back before the Supreme Court. The high court’s order Tuesday afternoon set off a fast-moving round of legal maneuvering in the lower court that has kept the law’s status in limbo. The Supreme Court urged the 5th Circuit to decide quickly whether the law would remain in effect while litigation continues. The brief order late Tuesday once again blocking the law did not explain the reasoning of the two judges — Richman, a nominee of George W. Bush, and Irma Carrillo Ramirez, a Biden nominee. The dissenting judge — Andrew Oldham, a Trump nominee — said he would have allowed the law to remain in effect before the hearing Wednesday. “It’s ping-pong,” Efrén C. Olivares, director of strategic litigation and advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a phone interview, describing the back-and-forth rulings. Olivares said it is unclear how soon the three-judge panel will rule, since a preliminary injunction from a lower court halting the law remains in place. The law makes it a state crime for migrants to illegally cross the border and gives Texas officials the ability to carry out their own deportations to Mexico. How they would do so remains unclear. The Mexican government has said it would not accept anyone sent back by Texas and condemned the law as “encouraging the separation of families, discrimination and racial profiling that violate the human rights of the migrant community.” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday referred to the Texas law as draconian. “It disrespects human rights. It’s a completely dehumanizing law. It’s anti-Christian, unjust. It violates precepts and norms of human coexistence,” López Obrador said. “It doesn’t just violate international law but \[the teachings of\] the Bible. I say this because those who are applying these unjust, inhumane measures go to church. They forget that the Bible talks about treating the foreigner well and, of course, loving your neighbor.” The Mexican government hasn’t said how it would respond if Texas officials attempted to send migrants back over the border. “We don’t want to reveal what we could do if in Texas, the governor and these anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican types attempt to carry out deportations,” López Obrador said. “Let me be clear, we will not accept deportations from the Texas government. And we will not just sit around with our arms crossed.” The Texas law was passed last year as part of Abbott’s push to expand the state’s role in immigration enforcement by busing migrants to Northern cities, mobilizing thousands of National Guard troops and lining the banks of the Rio Grande with barriers and razor wire. The Supreme Court’s [decision](https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/23pdf/23a814_febh.pdf) drew dissent from the three liberal justices, two of whom said the majority was inviting “further chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement.” “This law will disrupt sensitive foreign relations, frustrate the protection of individuals fleeing persecution, hamper active federal enforcement efforts, undermine federal agencies’ ability to detect and monitor imminent security threats, and deter noncitizens from reporting abuse or trafficking,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The brief seesaw implementation of the law Tuesday appeared to illustrate the dissenting justices’ concerns about legal chaos. Texas Republicans celebrated the Supreme Court ruling on social media Tuesday and said S.B. 4 was in full effect, only to be stopped again hours later. The Texas law carries state criminal penalties of up to six months in jail for migrants who illegally enter from Mexico. Those who reenter illegally after a deportation could face felony charges and a 10-to-20-year prison sentence. Texas lawmakers also empowered state judges to order deportations to Mexico and allowed local law enforcement personnel to carry out those orders. Judges may drop state charges if a migrant agrees to return to Mexico voluntarily. Luis Miranda, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said federal immigration agencies do not have the authority to assist Texas with the implementation of the state law. The only deportations that U.S. agents are allowed to conduct must involve federal orders, he said. “Immigration is within the exclusive purview of the federal government,” Miranda said in a statement. As Texas fights to implement its crackdown, Iowa’s Republican-dominated state legislature has passed a similar measure, though narrower in scope. Iowa’s bill empowers state authorities to arrest and issue deportation orders to immigrants in Iowa who had been deported or denied entry into the United States. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has said she will sign it into law. U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra temporarily blocked the Texas law last month, saying it was probably unconstitutional and “could open the door to each state passing its own version of immigration laws.” Ezra said the law intruded into federal matters even more than an Arizona immigration law that the Supreme Court [partially struck down in 2012](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-rules-on-arizona-immigration-law/2012/06/25/gJQA0Nrm1V_story.html?itid=lk_inline_manual_26&itid=lk_inline_manual_53). But the 5th Circuit quickly froze Ezra’s decision without explanation and said the Texas law could be enforced, at least temporarily, unless the Supreme Court weighed in. Richman said at the hearing Wednesday that Texas’s argument echoed late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the court’s ruling over Arizona’s 2010 immigration law. The majority struck down parts of it, but Scalia had disagreed, saying states should be able to exclude people who are there unlawfully. “Yes, your honor, I think we are saying that,” Nielson said. “And I think trespass is a great example, because Texas does arrest people who come across the border and trespass on Texas property.” “And you don’t need Senate Bill 4 to do that,” the judge interjected. “You’ve got trespassing laws.” “Correct,” Nielson said. “But if that is lawful, then I don’t see why this extra provision would be unlawful.” The Supreme Court in 2012 struck down parts of Arizona’s law, then the most sweeping state immigration law in the country, citing the federal government’s broad powers over immigration. But the high court let some provisions stand, including one that allowed police to question a person about their immigration status. Arizona Republicans in the state legislature passed a measure in recent weeks to make it a crime for migrants to cross the border illegally. Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed it, saying attacking immigration is “anti business.” Daniel Tenny, a Justice Department lawyer arguing the case for the Biden administration Wednesday, said the federal government has clear authority over immigration law and is acting to enforce it. He urged the judges to keep Ezra’s ruling in place blocking the law from taking effect. If not, he said the government would appreciate time to prepare to appeal to the Supreme Court. _Ann E. Marimow, Arelis R. Hernández in El Paso and Mary Beth Sheridan in Mexico City contributed to this report._
2024-03-22
  • _You’re reading an excerpt from the Today’s WorldView newsletter._ [_Sign up to get the rest free_](https://www.washingtonpost.com/newsletters/todays-worldview/?itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1&itid=lk_inline_manual_1)_, including news from around the globe and interesting ideas and opinions to know, sent to your inbox every weekday._ **A controversial Texas state law that empowers local authorities to deport migrants illegally crossing the border is being** [**buffeted by legal whiplash**](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/19/supreme-court-texas-immigration-law/?itid=lk_inline_manual_4)**.** Earlier this week, the conservative majority in the Supreme Court cleared the way for [the law, known as S.B. 4](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/03/19/texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_4&itid=lk_inline_manual_4), to be enforced. But only hours later, a federal appeals court blocked enforcement of the law ahead of subsequent deliberations. The proceedings are expected to make their way back to the Supreme Court. The law makes it a state crime for migrants to illegally cross the border and allows Texas judges to order the deportation of undocumented individuals — even though such measures regarding immigration are the province of federal authorities. Critics in the United States and abroad have warned that it is unconstitutional, counterproductive and creates a climate of fear in Texas where anyone potentially suspected of being an undocumented migrant can be subject to questioning by local police. The legislation comes amid an intensifying presidential election cycle, in which Republicans are hoping concerns over surges in illegal crossings will play in their favor. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is a fierce critic of President Biden and has repeatedly clashed with the administration over the perceived crisis at the border. But beyond the legal challenges thwarting the law’s enforcement, it faces a major political obstacle: cooperation, or the lack thereof, from Mexico. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador denounced the measures as “draconian,” as well as “dehumanizing” and “anti-Christian,” during [a news conference](https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2024-03-20/mexicos-president-lashes-out-over-texas-law-that-would-target-migrants-at-the-border) on Wednesday. He warned against any precedent that leads to local state entities superseding federal authority on matters of immigration on both sides of the border. “It’s as if the governor of Tamaulipas applied a law against Texans who were visiting Mexico or passing through Tamaulipas,” López Obrador said, referring to the northeastern Mexican state. “According to our constitution, anything that is related to foreign policy is not the responsibility of state governments.” **In an interview with The Washington Post, Mexico’s top diplomat concurred.** “We are not going to accept any return, either of Mexicans or non-Mexicans, from local, state or county authorities in Texas,” Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena [told my colleague Mary Beth Sheridan](https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/21/mexico-texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_13) in Mexico City. She added that the Texas law, when enforced, would compel Mexico to step up its security presence at U.S. border crossings into Texas, raising the prospect of standoffs between Mexican officials and Texan counterparts over attempted deportations. Abbott and his allies cast the legislation as an emergency response to an “invasion” of migrants, invoking de facto wartime powers. A district court judge ruled last month that the situation at the border does not constitute an “invasion.” The number of people taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol has reached the highest levels in the agency’s 100-year history under Biden, averaging 2 million per year, as my colleagues reported. Liberal justices on the Supreme Court were scathing about Abbott’s efforts in their dissent. “This law will disrupt sensitive foreign relations, frustrate the protection of individuals fleeing persecution, hamper active federal enforcement efforts, undermine federal agencies’ ability to detect and monitor imminent security threats, and deter noncitizens from reporting abuse or trafficking,” [wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/19/supreme-court-texas-immigration-law/?itid=lk_inline_manual_15), joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. “Could I be detained because I’m Brown, speak Spanish fluently and look like someone who crossed into Texas illegally?” Jorge Dominguez, a staff attorney for Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and a U.S. citizen, [told The Post](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/19/supreme-court-texas-immigration-law/?itid=lk_inline_manual_18). “This law essentially makes anyone like me vulnerable to any law enforcement officer in the state who wants to play the game ‘Guess the Immigrant.’” Asylum seekers in limbo in the United States’ snarled immigration system are worried, too. “Some people say we can be deported. Others say we’ll be arrested if we leave this shelter,” Maria Alejandra Seijas García, a 23-year-old from Venezuela who is staying at a refuge for migrants in El Paso, [told my colleagues](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/19/supreme-court-texas-immigration-law/?itid=lk_inline_manual_19). “It just seems unfair to me. Shouldn’t we be protected if we are in an asylum process?” **Mexico is in the run-up to a bitter presidential election**. But the Texas law has provoked an unusual moment of unity between the two front-runners — Claudia Sheinbaum, a López Obrador ally, and Xóchitl Gálvez, the main challenger from the opposition — who both have criticized the legislation and U.S. treatment of migrants. Still, Mexico has cooperated with U.S. demands for more crackdowns on migrant flows and human trafficking networks, and [agreed last year to receive deportees](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/05/02/border-deportations-mexico-united-states/?itid=lk_inline_manual_39&itid=lk_inline_manual_20) from four countries — Nicaragua, Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba. “Mexico says it has accepted such measures for humanitarian reasons, and to help its neighbor,” [reported Sheridan](https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/21/mexico-texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_23). “In return, analysts say, the Biden and Trump administrations have muted their criticism of López Obrador on non-immigration matters — such as democratic governance. The president has weakened some of the institutions that have underpinned Mexico’s 21st-century transition to democracy, calling them expensive and biased toward the opposition.” Analysts argue that the United States only has itself to blame for this predicament, given the ongoing inability of Congress to push through bipartisan immigration reform that could relieve some of the pressures on the border and smooth out delays in asylum applications. They say the current backlog of cases gives hope to many would-be applicants with less-deserving cases to attempt to use the asylum track to enter the country. But House Republicans, in large part directed by former president Donald Trump, recently spiked legislation that could address some of these concerns. “No issue illustrates the breakdown of governing and politics better than immigration,” [my colleague Dan Balz wrote last month](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/10/biden-house-republicans-immigration/?itid=lk_inline_manual_25). “A broken immigration system has broken the governing process, aided by the most cynical of politics.” “It is hardly crazy that Mexico’s president would deploy what leverage he has to ensure some favorable political outcome,” [noted Washington Post columnist Eduardo Porter](https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/03/21/mexico-immigration-pressure-biden-elections/?itid=lk_inline_manual_26). “The United States has [played that game for years](https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/does-united-states-still-interfere-in-foreign-elections-by-jack-goldsmith-2020-10). What is preposterous is that the U.S. political system (here’s looking at you, Speaker Mike Johnson) would expose the United States to this kind of manipulation.”
2024-03-27
  • A controversial [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) law that would criminalize unauthorized entry into the state has been placed back on hold by a federal appeals court. The [law](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/dec/30/biden-texas-migrants-state-police) has been caught in a whirlwind as the state and federal governments battle for the right to control the flow of US immigration, particularly at the southern US border. A three-judge panel from the fifth US circuit court of appeals [voted](https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.ca5.218049/gov.uscourts.ca5.218049.163.0.pdf) 2-1 on Tuesday night to suspend the law, known as SB4, with the two federal judges who voted in favor saying: “For nearly 150 years, the supreme court has held that the power to control immigration – the entry, admission, and removal of noncitizens – is _exclusively_ a federal power. “Despite this fundamental axiom, SB4 creates separate, distinct _state_ criminal offenses and related procedures regarding unauthorized entry of noncitizens into Texas from outside the country and their removal.” The dissenting judge, Andrew Oldham, was appointed by Donald Trump and once worked as an aide to Abbott. Now SB4 remains in legal limbo until a broader, firm decision is made. The same appellate court will hold a hearing next week on 3 April to decide its legality. One of the strictest immigration laws ever passed in American history, SB4 would allow Texas state police to arrest any person suspected of crossing the border illegally, and would make “improper border entry” a new criminal offense. It would also give state judges the power to send noncitizens back to the country from which they entered. The law drew the ire of the federal government and rights groups when it was first passed in November last year. They argued that not only was SB4 inhumane, but the US constitution specifies that immigration falls under the purview of the federal government, not individual states. In January, the justice department sued Texas and its Republican governor, Greg Abbott, to block SB4 and the next month a federal judge in Austin blocked it, but the fifth US circuit court of appeals granted a stay – preventing the lower court’s order from taking effect – and on 19 March the US supreme court cleared the way for it – though without ruling on its constitutionality. The law was in effect for several hours but was then [blocked](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/mar/20/texas-border-law) again by an appeals court that same night, creating confusion, though no arrests or deportations were made in that brief window. Immigration has risen as a significant issue in the 2024 election, with Republicans condemning Joe Biden for an alleged “open border crisis”. Democrats point in turn to a bipartisan law passed in Congress that Republicans themselves negotiated but then refused to pass, citing it as evidence that Republicans have no interest in resolving the issue so that they can campaign on it instead.
  • A divided federal appeals court dealt a major blow to a new Texas [law](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/03/19/texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_2) that empowers state officials to detain and deport migrants, ruling that it will remain on hold and saying that the statute tramples on broad federal control of immigration. [The 2-1 decision](https://washpost.arcpublishing.com/documents/index/?document_uuid=88592487-f667-4680-8bb5-0c83ed3b2654) late Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit follows a lower-court ruling in February that said the state law is probably unconstitutional. In the majority decision, the circuit’s chief judge, Priscilla Richman, wrote that Congress “left no room” in U.S. law for state officials to intrude on immigration enforcement, even as she sympathized with Texas’s predicament as a border state amid a historic influx of migrants. Responding to illegal immigration is the federal government’s role, she wrote. “Texas, nobly and admirably some would say, seeks to fill at least partially the gaping void,” Richman, a conservative nominated by President George W. Bush, wrote in a 50-page decision with Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez, a Biden nominee. “But it is unlikely that Texas can step into the shoes of the national sovereign under our Constitution and laws.” The decision follows legal skirmishes over the new state law, known as [Senate Bill 4](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/03/19/texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_10). The Supreme Court briefly allowed the law to [take effect last week](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/19/supreme-court-texas-immigration-law/?itid=lk_inline_manual_10) and urged the appeals court to rule quickly on whether to suspend it pending legal challenges. The appeals decision is a preliminary step, focusing only on Texas’s request that the judges stay a Feb. 29 lower-court [ruling](https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/03/04/appeals-court-ruling-sets-stage-contested-tex-border-law-take-effect/?itid=lk_inline_manual_12) by U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra, a Republican appointee in Austin. Ezra issued a preliminary injunction halting the law, saying it intruded more into federal powers over immigration than did an Arizona immigration law that the Supreme Court partly struck down in 2012. The same three-judge appeals court panel, based in New Orleans, will hear Texas’s request to overturn Ezra’s injunction April 3, which is likely to raise the same legal arguments. Texas officials did not immediately respond to the ruling Wednesday, and it was unclear if they would appeal it. Lawyers said Texas could appeal Tuesday’s decision to the full 5th Circuit or to the Supreme Court. Or the state could wait to appeal the decision after next week’s hearing. The office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) did not respond to requests for comment, but the governor posted on X that nearly 200 soldiers in the Texas Tactical Border Force had arrived in El Paso on Tuesday. “Texas will continue to utilize all available resources and personnel to secure our border,” he wrote. The dissenting judge on the appeals panel worried that the Texas law will never take effect after two court decisions cited more than a century of Supreme Court rulings that the federal government controls immigration. “Today’s decision means that we’ll likely never know how Texas’s state courts and its state law-enforcement officers would have implemented S.B. 4,” Judge Andrew Oldham, a Trump nominee and Abbott’s former general counsel, wrote in a 71-page dissent. Oldham wrote that the appeals panel will “presumably affirm” Ezra’s ruling after next week’s hearing and return the case to the lower court for a trial, where the Texas law will probably be permanently blocked. “So, absent intervention by the en banc court or the Supreme Court, that will be that,” Oldham wrote. Oldham said the court should have allowed Texas to enforce the law to examine how it works. Texas argued that the state law complemented federal law, rather than conflicted with it. “In our federal system, the State of Texas is supposed to retain at least some of its sovereignty,” Oldham wrote. The court panel’s majority said the Texas law irreparably conflicts with federal law. Deportations are civil proceedings, where Texas makes them criminal proceedings. The state also could deport people without giving them and federal officials a chance to sort out if they could legally stay in the United States to seek asylum or another protection. The judges in the majority also criticized Congress, saying that “one root cause for the lack of action by the Executive could well be the failure of Congress to spend the funds necessary to address the massive increases in the numbers of noncitizens illegally entering the United States.” Oldham also cited research by Harvard law professor Gerald Neuman, noting that historically U.S. states have exercised some control over immigration. But Neuman said in a phone interview Wednesday that those conditions were a long time ago, before the Civil War when Southern states wanted to control the movement of free and enslaved Black people. Congress began regulating immigration through a law passed in 1875. Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the organizations that sued to block a 2010 state immigration law in Arizona, said that unless a higher court intervenes, it could take years before the Texas case is decided. There is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will take it up, he said. The court in 2012 partially struck down Arizona’s law for similar reasons, and a later court settlement considerably narrowed the law’s reach, he said. Texas Republicans passed the S.B. 4 law last year after accusing [President Biden](https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/candidates/joe-biden-2024/?itid=lk_inline_manual_39) of weak border enforcement. U.S. authorities have [apprehended](https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-land-border-encounters) an average of 2 million migrants a year who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally since Biden took office, the highest the Border Patrol has ever recorded. Democrats have countered that Republicans are refusing to pass a bipartisan Senate bill that would address the influx by expanding enforcement. The Biden administration has accused Republicans of stalling in response to former president [Donald Trump](https://www.washingtonpost.com/donald-trump/?itid=lk_inline_manual_42), an immigration hard-liner [who denounced the bill](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/01/27/trump-border-biden/?itid=lk_inline_manual_42) and is the likely Republican nominee to challenge Biden in November’s presidential election. The Texas law makes it a [crime](https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2024/03/20/texas-immigration-law-sb4-appeals-court/?itid=lk_inline_manual_44) for a noncitizen to enter the state illegally from another country. Migrants convicted of violating the law could face up to six months in jail, while those who return after having been deported could face felony charges and a maximum of 20 years in prison. The law also authorizes state judges to order deportations to Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, however, [has said his government would reject](https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/21/mexico-texas-immigration-law-sb4/?itid=lk_inline_manual_45) any attempt by Texas officials to send migrants to Mexico. The Biden administration, a pair of Texas nonprofit groups and the county government of El Paso filed the lawsuits seeking to stop the state law from taking effect. “We look forward to ending S.B. 4 once and for all,” Cody Wofsy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Wednesday. The ACLU represents the two Texas nonprofits and El Paso County in the case. At least one other lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Texas community organization, La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), and four unidentified immigrants who allege they are eligible to stay in the United States legally but could be targeted for deportation under the state law. Tania Chavez, president and executive director of LUPE, praised the decision, saying Latinos in Texas, who make up more than 40 percent of the state’s population, feared racial profiling and wrongful deportations of U.S. citizens or immigrants with a legal case to remain in this country. She said LUPE is urging people to remain aware of their rights, especially as states such as Iowa are trying to replicate Texas’s law, and to apply for U.S. citizenship if they are eligible for it. “Today it’s Texas, but we don’t know what will happen in other states tomorrow,” said Chavez. “Don’t leave things to fate.” _William Branigin, Ann E. Marimow and Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report._
2024-04-03
  • The state of [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) has conceded that it may have gone “too far” in passing a law last year that made entering the state illegally a crime and allowing state judges to order undocumented people to be deported. The admission that Texas’s controversial SB4 law may have gone beyond the limitations of state laws, which typically bow to federal law on immigration matters, came at a hearing on Wednesday before the fifth US circuit court of appeals. [ US appeals court keeps Texas migrant arrest law on hold ](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/mar/27/exas-immigration-law-hold-appeals-court) The Texas solicitor general, Aaron Nielson, told the court that Texas lawmakers had sought to go “up to the line” in terms of authority on immigration allowed by the US supreme court. “Now, to be fair, maybe Texas went too far,” Nielson conceded during a hearing before the court that paused SB4 from coming into effect last week. When asked what the statute had accomplished, Nielsen said it was Texas’s attempt to enforce federal immigration law that the Biden administration was failing to apply. By some estimates, more than 8 million undocumented people have crossed into the US during Biden’s term, stressing both border states such as Texas and cities including New York with their large numbers. “Of course, we know that presidents come and go, and different administrations might very well enforce federal law differently,” Nielsen told the court, [according to CNN](https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/03/politics/texas-sb4-immigration-5th-circuit/index.html), and conceded that it might not be necessary under a different administration. Nielsen also said that under Texas’s interpretation of immigration law, migrants subject to deportation would be turned over to federal immigration authorities at border ports and that federal officials would then determine if they should be released into the US. Daniel Tenny, an attorney for the Department of Justice, argued that the appeals court should uphold its decision blocking the law, which came after the US supreme court permitted its enforcement only hours earlier. During that brief window in March, Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas and co-author of SB4, [saluted](https://twitter.com/DanPatrick/status/1770177106871546155) what he called a “historic” decision that gave Texas “the right to arrest, prosecute, and return anyone who enters Texas illegally”. The supreme court’s conservative majority did not offer a reasoning for allowing SB4 to go into effect, though in dissenting opinions the liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson accused the rightwing justices of inviting “further chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement”. Sotomayor [said](https://www.theguardian.com/law/2024/mar/19/us-supreme-court-texas-migrant-law) the Texas law “upends the federal-state balance of power that has existed for over a century, in which the national government has had exclusive authority over entry and removal of non-citizens”. The White House also strongly criticized the court for allowing what it called a “harmful and unconstitutional” law. “We fundamentally disagree with the supreme court’s order allowing Texas’s harmful and unconstitutional law to go into effect,” said the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre. “SB4 will not only make communities in [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) less safe, it will also burden law enforcement and sow chaos and confusion at our southern border.” With SB4 now effectively neutralized, Texas is pursuing other measures to deter migrants, including deploying national guard troops and installing concertina wire and a floating barrier along the Rio Grande.
2024-04-09
  • Louisiana’s Republican-controlled senate advanced a bill on Monday that would empower state and local law enforcement to arrest and jail people in the state who entered the US illegally, similar to embattled legislation in Texas. Amid national fights between Republican states and the Democratic president, Joe Biden, over how and who should enforce the US-Mexico border, Louisiana joins a growing list of legislatures seeking to expand states’ authority over border enforcement. Proponents of the bill, such as the legislation’s author, GOP state senator Valarie Hodges, say Louisiana has the “right to defend our nation”. Hodges has accused the federal government of neglecting responsibilities to enforce immigration law, an argument heard from GOP leaders across the country. Opponents argue the bill is unconstitutional, will not do anything to make the state safer, and will only fuel negative and false rhetoric directed toward migrants. Across the nation, reliably red legislatures have advanced tougher immigration enforcement measures. The Oklahoma House passed a bill that would prohibit state revenue from being used to provide benefits to those living in the state illegally. A bill in Tennessee, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, would require law enforcement agencies in the state to communicate with federal immigration authorities if they discover people who are in the country illegally. Measures that mirror parts of the [Texas](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas) law are awaiting the governor’s signature in Iowa, while another is pending in Idaho’s statehouse. Although Louisiana does not border Mexico, bills and policies targeting migrants suspected of entering the country illegally have been pushed to the forefront over the past four months under new conservative leadership. One bill aims to ban sanctuary city policies that allow local law enforcement to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials unless ordered by a court. Another would set up funding to send Louisiana national guard members to the US-Mexico border in Texas. The new Republican governor, Jeff Landry, has also begun directing state agencies to collect and publish data on migrants in the state. “I think all of us in here know that we have a crisis at the border and our federal government is not doing anything to help the states,” state senator Hodges said during floor debate on Monday. Louisiana’s bill would create the crime of “illegal entry or re-entry” into Louisiana. Illegal re-entry includes people who were previously “denied admission, excluded, deported or otherwise removed from the US”. The bill passed the state senate along party lines after 10 minutes of debate and now heads to the house. Like the Texas law, which has been put on hold by a federal appeals court panel that is considering whether to continue blocking enforcement pending further appeals, Louisiana’s bill would expand the authority of state and local law enforcement. In addition, Hodges said it would “start the deportation process”. Currently, enforcement of immigration law regarding illegal entry and deportations has long been the exclusive domain of federal law enforcement. Under Louisiana’s bill, anyone who violates the proposed law would face up to a year in prison and a $4,000 fine for a first offense, and up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a second offense. Necessary witnesses or victims of certain crimes – such as murder, rape, human trafficking, kidnapping, involuntary servitude and blackmail – would be exempted. In addition, the bill would authorize Governor Landry to make an interstate compact with Texas and other states willing to participate in Texas’s state-led border security efforts. Proponents say the provision will help prevent illegal border crossings by sharing information and “state resources to build surveillance systems and physical barriers to deter illegal activity along the border”. Opponents of Louisiana’s bill say it is an overreach of state authority, would increase racial profiling and could clog court systems. “It’s going to create a backlog in our courts, it’s going to drain state resources, and it’s not going to actually reduce crime or make Louisiana any safer,” Huey Fischer García, a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said during a hearing on the bill last month. If Louisiana’s bill is approved by the house and signed by the governor, who Hodges says supports the measure, it would take effect only if the US supreme court upholds the Texas law or if the US constitution is amended to increase local border enforcement authority.
2024-04-25
  • ![President Trump Gives State Of The Union Address](https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/MXDLvOtJ6YztaJiiQiKBc2oQ4Uc=/0x0:3237x2158/1200x800/filters:focal(1361x821:1877x1337)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/73303924/1204094281.0.jpg) Former President Donald Trump greets his own appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, ahead of the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images Today, the [Supreme Court](https://www.vox.com/scotus) will hear what might be one of its least consequential arguments in modern history. I’m referring, of course, to [_Trump v. United States_](https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/trump-v-united-states-3/), the case asking whether former [President Donald Trump](https://www.vox.com/donald-trump) is immune from a federal criminal prosecution arising out of his failed attempt to overturn [President Joe Biden](https://www.vox.com/joe-biden)’s victory in the [2020 election](https://www.vox.com/2020-presidential-election). This is one of the most widely followed cases the Supreme Court has heard in recent memory. For the first time in American history, a former president faces criminal charges. And these charges are a doozy, alleging that Trump [targeted our democracy itself](https://www.vox.com/2023/8/1/23810131/trump-indictment-charges-jan-6-jack-smith-supreme-court). So why is this argument so inconsequential? The answer is that Trump has already won everything he could reasonably expect to win from the Supreme Court, and then some. Even this Supreme Court, with its 6-3 Republican-appointed supermajority, is unlikely to buy Trump’s argument that former presidents enjoy broad immunity from criminal prosecution. Trump’s lawyers have not even attempted to hide the implications of this argument. When the case was heard by a lower federal court, a judge asked Trump’s lawyer if the former president was immune from prosecution even if he’d [ordered “SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival.”](https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2024/01/09/trump-immunity-appeals-court-arguments/) Trump’s lawyer responded that Trump was immune, unless he were first impeached and convicted by the Senate. Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day. If you’re curious about the legal arguments in this case, [I dove into them here](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/4/22/24133424/supreme-court-donald-trump-immunity-january-6-president). But again, they are a sideshow. Trump’s goal is to delay his trial for as long as possible — ideally, from his perspective, until after this November’s election. And in this respect, the Supreme Court has [already given him what he wants](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/2/28/24086046/supreme-court-donald-trump-sabotage-delay-dc-trial-judge-chutkan). So long as this case is sitting before the justices, that trial cannot happen. And the justices have repeatedly refused [special prosecutor Jack Smith’s requests](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2023/12/14/23998936/supreme-court-trump-crimes-jack-smith-election-theft-immunity-january-6) to [decide this immunity question](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/2/28/24086046/supreme-court-donald-trump-sabotage-delay-dc-trial-judge-chutkan) on an expedited schedule that would ensure that Trump’s criminal trial can still happen before November. This decision to put Trump’s appeal on the slow track is [part of a much larger pattern in this Supreme Court](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/12/29/23530842/supreme-court-arizona-mayorkas-title-42-mexican-border-immigration): The justices do not always need to rule in favor of a conservative party on the merits in order to achieve a conservative result. They can do so simply by manipulating their own calendar. ### How the Court games its calendar to benefit litigants on the right By handling requests from Republican litigants with alacrity, while dragging their feet when a Democrat (or someone prosecuting a Republican) seeks Supreme Court review, the justices can and have handed big victories to right-wing causes while simultaneously sabotaging liberals. Before the _Trump_ case reached the Supreme Court, this penchant for manipulative scheduling was [most apparent in immigration cases](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/12/29/23530842/supreme-court-arizona-mayorkas-title-42-mexican-border-immigration). During the [Trump administration](https://www.vox.com/trump-administration), lower courts often handed down decisions blocking the former president’s immigration [policies](https://www.vox.com/policy), and the Court (often over the dissent of several justices appointed by Democrats) moved quite swiftly to put Trump’s policies back in place. In [_Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary_](https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/19a230_k53l.pdf) (2019), for example, after a lower court blocked a Trump administration policy locking many migrants out of the asylum process, the Court reinstated this policy about two weeks after the administration asked it to do so. Similarly, in [_Wolf v. Cook County_](https://affordablecareactlitigation.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/19a905_7m48.pdf) (2020), the Court reinstated a Trump administration policy targeting low-income immigrants [just eight days](https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/19a905.html) after Trump’s lawyers sought relief from the justices. Once Biden came into office, however, the Court hit the brakes. In August 2021, for example, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk — a Trump appointee who is known for handing down poorly reasoned decisions [implementing right-wing policy preferences](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/12/17/23512766/supreme-court-matthew-kacsmaryk-judge-trump-abortion-immigration-birth-control) — ordered the federal government to reinstate a Trump-era [immigration policy](https://www.vox.com/immigration) known as “[Remain in Mexico](https://www.vox.com/23032702/supreme-court-remain-in-mexico-texas-biden-trump-immigration).” Though the Supreme Court eventually reversed Kacsmaryk’s decision, it [sat on the case for more than 10 months](https://www.vox.com/2022/6/30/23189965/supreme-court-biden-texas-remain-in-mexico-john-roberts), effectively letting Kacsmaryk dictate the nation’s border policy for that whole time. Similarly, after another Trump-appointed judge struck down a Biden administration memo laying out [enforcement priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/11/27/23464741/supreme-court-ice-drew-tipton-texas-united-states-immigration), the Court [waited about 11 months](https://www.vox.com/scotus/2023/6/23/23771310/supreme-court-united-states-texas-ice-immigration-drew-tipton-brett-kavanaugh) before finally intervening and restoring the administration’s longstanding power to set priorities for law enforcement agencies. The point is that, even in cases where the justices ultimately conclude that a conservative litigant should not prevail, they frequently hand that litigant a significant victory by sitting on the case and allowing a Republican policy to remain in effect for sometimes more than a year. (Given the slow pace of most litigation, this might not be particularly remarkable — except for the stark difference in how the Court has treated suits against Trump and Biden’s policies.) The Court’s ability to set its own calendar allows it to manipulate US policy without actually endorsing lower court decisions that cannot be defended on the merits. The Court’s behavior in the _Trump_ immunity case is a close cousin to this tactic. Again, it is difficult to imagine even this Supreme Court ruling that presidents may commit crimes with impunity. But the Court does not need to explicitly declare that Trump is above the law to place him above the law. All it has to do is string out his immunity claim for as long as possible. _This story appeared originally in_ [_**Today, Explained**_](https://www.vox.com/today-explained-podcast)_, Vox’s flagship daily newsletter._ [_**Sign up here for future editions**_](https://www.vox.com/pages/today-explained-newsletter-signup)_._
2024-05-21
  • The US Department of Justice sued [Oklahoma](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/oklahoma) on Tuesday over a state law that seeks to impose criminal penalties on those living in the state illegally. The lawsuit in federal court in Oklahoma City challenges an Oklahoma law that makes it a state crime – punishable by up to two years in prison – to live in the state without legal immigration status. Similar laws passed in Texas and Iowa are already facing challenges from the justice department. Oklahoma is among several GOP states jockeying to push deeper into immigration enforcement as both [Republicans](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/republicans) and Democrats seize on the issue. Other bills targeting undocumented immigrants have been passed this year in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. The justice department says the Oklahoma law violates the US constitution and is asking the court to declare it invalid and bar the state from enforcing it. “Oklahoma cannot disregard the US Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent,” Brian M Boynton, the US principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the justice department’s civil division, said in a statement. “We have brought this action to ensure that Oklahoma adheres to the Constitution and the framework adopted by Congress for regulation of immigration.” The Oklahoma governor, Kevin Stitt, said the bill was necessary because the Biden administration was failing to secure the nation’s borders. “Not only that, but they stand in the way of states trying to protect their citizens,” Stitt said in a statement. The federal action was expected, as the Department of Justice warned Oklahoma officials last week that the agency would sue unless the state agreed not to enforce the new law. In response, the Oklahoma attorney general, Gentner Drummond, called the justice department’s pre-emption argument “dubious at best” and said that while the federal government had broad authority over immigration, it did not have “exclusive power” on the subject. “Oklahoma is exercising its concurrent and complementary power as a sovereign state to address an ongoing public crisis within its borders through appropriate legislation,” Drummond wrote in a letter to the justice department. “Put more bluntly, Oklahoma is cleaning up the Biden Administration’s mess through entirely legal means in its own backyard – and will resolutely continue to do so by supplementing federal prohibitions with robust state penalties.” Texas was allowed to enforce a law similar to Oklahoma’s for only a few confusing hours in March before it was put on hold by a federal appeals court’s three-judge panel. The panel heard arguments from both supporters and opponents in April, and will next issue a decision on the law’s constitutionality. The justice department filed another lawsuit earlier this month seeking to block an Iowa law that would allow criminal charges to be brought against people who have outstanding deportation orders or who previously have been removed from or denied admission to the US. The law in Oklahoma has prompted several large protests at the state capitol that included immigrants and their families voicing concern that their loved ones will be racially profiled by police. “We feel attacked,” said Sam Wargin Grimaldo, who attended a rally last month wearing a shirt that read “Young, Latino and Proud”. “People are afraid to step out of their houses if legislation like this is proposed and then passed,” he said.
2024-06-04
  • Republicans in Arizona voted this afternoon to put a measure on the state’s ballots in November that [would make illegal immigration a state crime](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/04/us/arizona-immigration-law.html). If passed, the measure would give local authorities the power to arrest, jail and deport unauthorized migrants. The proposal is similar to laws recently passed by Republicans in Texas and Iowa that challenged the federal government’s exclusive authority to enforce immigration laws. Like those, it is likely to face court challenges if passed. But Republicans are hoping the measure can convince anti-immigration conservatives and unenthusiastic independents to vote in a swing state that could be crucial in the presidential race. President Biden is also hardening his border policies in an effort to ease pressure on the immigration system and address voters’ rightward shift on immigration. Today, he issued an executive order that prevents migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border until illegal crossings drop significantly; it could go into effect tomorrow. [Here’s how it works](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/04/us/politics/biden-executive-order-border-asylum.html). Biden’s move to restrict long-established asylum protections for migrants echoes Donald Trump’s attempted crackdown in 2018, which many Democrats, including Biden himself, criticized. The American Civil Liberties Union said it planned to challenge the executive action in court. “The administration has left us little choice but to sue,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer at the A.C.L.U. “It was unlawful under Trump and is no less illegal now.” **In related news,** San Diego has become a migrant hot spot. [My colleague Jonathan Wolfe explained what it’s like there](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/04/us/san-diego-migrants-california.html). Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F04%2Fbriefing%2Farizona-biden-border-politics-india-election.html&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F04%2Fbriefing%2Farizona-biden-border-politics-india-election.html) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? [Log in](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F04%2Fbriefing%2Farizona-biden-border-politics-india-election.html&asset=opttrunc). Want all of The Times? [Subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F04%2Fbriefing%2Farizona-biden-border-politics-india-election.html).
2024-06-14
  • The Supreme Court [sided with the federal government](https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/23pdf/22-674_bq7d.pdf) on Friday in a dispute over what information immigration officials must provide migrants about their deportation hearings. In a 5-to-4 decision, the majority upheld the current requirements, which can mean that basic information about a deportation hearing is missing. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the majority opinion, joined by four of the court’s other conservatives. He cautioned that the decision “does not mean that the government is free of its obligation” to provide immigrants with notice of deportation hearings. Rather, he wrote, it blocked immigrants from seeking to challenge removal orders “in perpetuity based on arguments they could have raised in a hearing that they chose to skip.” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, in a dissent, wrote that the majority had formally approved the government’s “abject noncompliance” with its duty to give migrants proper notice about deportation proceedings. Notice of such hearings “has been a crucial aspect of federal immigration policy since at least the early 1950s,” added Justice Jackson, who was joined by the court’s other two liberal justices and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F14%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Fsupreme-court-deportation-notice-ruling.html&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F14%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Fsupreme-court-deportation-notice-ruling.html) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? [Log in](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F14%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Fsupreme-court-deportation-notice-ruling.html&asset=opttrunc). Want all of The Times? [Subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F14%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Fsupreme-court-deportation-notice-ruling.html).
2024-06-17
  • A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked an [Iowa](https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/iowa) law that allowed law enforcement in the state to file criminal charges against people with outstanding deportation orders or who previously had been denied entry to the US. US district court judge Stephen Locher issued a preliminary injunction because he said the Department of Justice and civil rights groups who filed suit against the state were likely to succeed in their argument that federal immigration law pre-empted the law approved this spring by Iowa legislators. “As a matter of politics, the new legislation might be defensible,” Locher wrote in his decision. “As a matter of constitutional law, it is not.” The Iowa law, which was set to take effect on 1 July, would let law enforcement officers file charges to be brought against people who have outstanding deportation orders or who previously have been removed from or denied admission to the US. Once in custody, migrants could either agree to a judge’s order to leave the US or be prosecuted, potentially facing time in prison before deportation. In approving the law, Iowa’s Republican-majority legislature and Governor Kim Reynolds said they took the action because the administration of Joe Biden was not effective in controlling immigration along the nation’s southern border. In arguments last week before Locher, the state said the Iowa law would only enable state law enforcement and courts to apply federal law, not create new law. “We have a law that adopts the federal standard,” Valencia said. However, the federal government and civil rights groups said the Iowa law violated the federal government’s sole authority over immigration matters and would create a host of problems and confusion. Christopher Eiswerth, a DoJ attorney, and Emma Winger, representing the American Immigration Council, said the new Iowa law did not make an exception for people who had once been deported but now were in the country legally, including those seeking asylum. The law is similar but less expansive than a Texas law, which was in effect for only a few confusing hours in March before it was put on hold by a federal appeals court’s three-judge panel. Iowa’s attorney general Brenna Bird said in statement that she would appeal against the judge’s decision. “I am disappointed in today’s court decision that blocks Iowa from stopping illegal reentry and keeping our communities safe,” Bird said. “Since Biden refuses to secure our borders, he has left states with no choice but to do the job for him.” Reynolds issued a statement that also expressed frustration at the judge’s ruling and criticized Biden. “I signed this bill into law to protect Iowans and our communities from the results of this border crisis: rising crime, overdose deaths, and human trafficking,” Reynolds said.
2024-06-29
  • A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked Oklahoma from enforcing its new immigration law that would make it a crime to enter the state without legal authorization to be in the United States. The ruling, issued just days before the law was set to go into effect on Monday, is the latest legal setback for Republican-controlled states that have [tested](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/15/us/politics/republican-states-immigration-laws.html) the limits of their role in immigration by [passing their own legislation](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/20/us/texas-immigration-republican-states.html?searchResultPosition=1) meant to crack down on people who crossed the border illegally. The Justice Department maintains that only the federal government can regulate and enforce immigration. A Texas law that would have given state and local police officers the authority to arrest undocumented migrants was [put on hold](https://www.nytimes.com/article/texas-border-law-challenge-explainer.html) by a federal appeals court in March. The Supreme Court had briefly let the law stand but returned the case to the appeals court, which decided to pause enforcement of it. Then, in May, a federal judge temporarily [blocked](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/22/us/florida-undocumented-immigrant-transport.html) part of a Florida law that made it a crime to transport unauthorized immigrants into the state. And in mid-June, an Iowa law that would have made it a crime for an immigrant to enter the state after being deported or denied entry into the country was [put on pause](https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/17/us/iowa-immigration-ruling.html?searchResultPosition=2) by a district court. In the Oklahoma case, U.S. District Judge Bernard M. Jones [wrote](https://oklahoma.gov/content/dam/ok/en/oag/documents/news-documents/2024/june/Preliminary%20Injunction%20Order%20-%20Immigration.pdf) in his ruling that the state “may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration,” but the state “may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” He issued a preliminary injunction, pausing enforcement of the law while a case over the law’s constitutionality continues. Under the new law, willfully entering and remaining in Oklahoma without legal immigration status would be a [state crime](http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2023-24%20ENR/hB/HB4156%20ENR.PDF) called an “impermissible occupation.” A first offense would be a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to one year in jail and a $500 fine; a subsequent offense would be a felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and a $1,000 fine. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and [log into](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F29%2Fus%2Foklahoma-immigration-law-judge.html&asset=opttrunc) your Times account, or [subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F29%2Fus%2Foklahoma-immigration-law-judge.html) for all of The Times. Thank you for your patience while we verify access. Already a subscriber? [Log in](https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?response_type=cookie&client_id=vi&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F29%2Fus%2Foklahoma-immigration-law-judge.html&asset=opttrunc). Want all of The Times? [Subscribe](https://www.nytimes.com/subscription?campaignId=89WYR&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2024%2F06%2F29%2Fus%2Foklahoma-immigration-law-judge.html).