Supreme Court Allows Anti-Immigrant Texas Law to Go into Effect

Court allows stay on injunction while appeal is pending

March 19, 2024 2:45 pm

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AUSTIN, Texas – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled to leave in place an appeals court administrative stay on a preliminary injunction blocking Texas Senate Bill 4 (88-4), an extreme anti-immigrant law. Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh emphasized that they were not addressing the merits, but concluded Supreme Court intervention was premature at this early stage. The ruling will allow the law to go into effect immediately.

The legislation is one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws ever passed by any state legislature in the country and would permit local and state law enforcement to arrest, detain, and remove people they suspect to have entered Texas from another country without federal authorization. The law’s implementation would lead to racial profiling, separate families, and harm Black and Brown communities across the state. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateways, and El Paso County, arguing that S.B. 4 violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and is preempted by federal law.

Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay that suspended a lower court decision to block S.B. 4 from going into effect while the case is litigated. In response, civil rights groups filed an application to the Supreme Court to vacate the stay. The Fifth Circuit has stated that it will expedite consideration of the appeal, and oral arguments have been set for April 3 in New Orleans.

Quotes from co-counsel and plaintiffs are as follows:

Anand Balakrishnan, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said:

“Today’s decision is disappointing and threatens the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws and bedrock principles of due process. But it is only preliminary and turned on the specific posture of the case. We’ll continue to fight against S.B. 4 until it is struck down once and for all.”

Rebecca Lightsey, co-executive director of American Gateways, said:

“While today’s Supreme Court decision is another setback for immigrants and refugees, we will continue to advocate for civil rights and dignity for people fleeing persecution. We all recognize that our current immigration system is broken. It’s past time to take a look at realistic solutions that will help not only those coming and seeking protection, but also the communities that are receiving them.”

Jennifer Babaie, director of advocacy and legal services Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, said:

“Make no mistake, this decision does not change our commitment to this fight. Everyone, regardless of race or immigration status, has the freedom to move and the freedom to thrive. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure this anti-immigrant and unconstitutional law is struck down for good, and Texans are protected from its inherent discrimination.”

Tami Goodlette, director of the Beyond Borders Program at TCRP, said:

“Today’s decision is unfortunate. Allowing this law to be implemented as the case makes its way through the legal process needlessly puts people’s lives at risk. Everyone, no matter if you have called Texas home for decades or just got here yesterday, deserves to feel safe and have the basic right of due process. We remain committed to the fight to permanently overturn S.B. 4 to show the nation that no state has the power to overtake federal immigration authority.”

Adriana Piñon, legal director at the ACLU of Texas, said:

“We disagree with the court’s decision and the implementation of this unconstitutional and extreme anti-immigrant law will likely be disastrous for both Texans and our legal system. S.B. 4 threatens our most basic civil and human rights as citizens and non-citizens alike and we recommend anyone threatened by this, including people who fear racial profiling, to remember their rights. We will continue our efforts to halt this hateful law.”












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