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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In late-night reversal, appeals court again blocks Texas immigration law

By J. David Goodman, Edgar Sandoval and Adam Liptak

The state of Texas late Tuesday was once again prevented from enforcing a strict new immigration law that gives local police agencies the power to arrest migrants who cross the border without authorization.

The order, issued by a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel before midnight, capped a day of legal whiplash and came just hours after the Supreme Court allowed the law to temporarily go into effect.

The justices’ ruling created confusion along the border, outraged immigration advocates and led to a show of defiance by the Mexican government.

Hours later that was all moot, except the confusion.

At issue is whether the law will be put on a long-term hold while the Biden administration’s claim that the law is unconstitutional makes its way through the legal system.

Earlier Tuesday, the Supreme Court justices had kicked the case back to the 5th Circuit, which is based in New Orleans, and had been considering the Biden administration’s challenge of the law. The law went briefly into effect on Tuesday when the high court declined to block the measure in the meantime.

The 5th Circuit scheduled arguments for Wednesday on whether the district court’s injunction should remain in place as the federal appeals process goes forward. It was not clear what further action the court might take.

But for the moment, the law is again blocked.

The law known as Senate Bill 4 would make it a crime — a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony after that — to cross into Texas from a foreign country anywhere other than a legal port of entry.

Legal experts said SB 4 would be the only state law known to deputize local authorities to arrest people suspected of illegally entering the country, encouraging other Republican-led states to pass similar laws. And indeed, lawmakers in Iowa on Tuesday passed their own bill.

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