U.S. Supreme Court Delays Texas Immigration Law

A United States Supreme Court judge has temporarily blocked a bill that would hand authorities in Texas draconian powers to arrest and expel migrants and refugees who enter the country without documents.

An order issued on Monday by Justice Samuel Alito puts the legislation on hold until at least next week, when the court is set to examine it again.

Opponents have called the measures, which would give state officials broad powers to arrest, prosecute and order the removal of people who cross the border from Mexico irregularly, the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since an Arizona law more than a decade ago.

Known as Senate Bill 4, the law had been set to take effect on Saturday under a decision by the conservative-leaning 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Alito’s order pushes that back to March 13. The delay came just hours after the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

“Make no mistake: S.B. 4 bypasses federal immigration authority and threatens the integrity of our nation’s constitution and laws,” a coalition of groups that took legal action against the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Republican Texas 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 migrants from entering the country.

The legislation 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 misdemeanour charge.

Those who fail to leave after being ordered to do so could be rearrested and charged with a more serious felony.

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Comfort Samuel

I work with TV360 Nigeria, as a broadcast journalist, producer and reporter. I'm so passionate on what I do.

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