Supreme Court Extends Pause on Anti-Immigrant Texas Legislation that Would Overstep Federal Law

Decision prevents law from going into effect until March 18

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
March 12, 2024 12:15 pm

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AUSTIN, Texas – The U.S. Supreme Court today extended its stay of Texas Senate Bill 4 (88-4), an extreme anti-immigrant law. The ruling prevents the law from going into effect until March 18 at 5 p.m. EDT. The Supreme Court is considering an application to review a decision by the Fifth Circuit that would have allowed S.B. 4 to go into effect while it considers the legality of the law.

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:

“We are pleased that S.B. 4 remains on hold and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that this law is struck down once and for all.”

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

“We are gratified that the Justices have paused this hateful law, which should never have gotten this far in the first place. As we champion the dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees, we will remain steadfast in our opposition to this xenophobic proposal and anything similar that seeks only to harm and divide.”

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

“Though today’s pause is a step forward, the onslaught of attacks against Texans of color is far from over. Everyone, regardless of race or immigration status, has the freedom to move and the freedom to thrive. Our fight continues to ensure this anti-immigrant and unconstitutional law is struck down for good.”

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

“We are pleased the stay will remain in place, blocking a racist, unconstitutional law from going into effect as the case makes its way through the legal process. No state has the right to implement its own immigration policies that threaten to upend the lives of people for simply seeking safety, better opportunities, and a place to call home in Texas.”

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

“We praise the Supreme Court’s decision to not rush this unconstitutional and extreme anti-immigrant law into effect. S.B. 4 threatens our most basic civil and human rights as citizens and noncitizens alike. We will continue our efforts to prevent this hateful law from ever harming our state.”


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