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The Supreme Court, through an order by Justice Samuel Alito, has paused a controversial Texas law that authorized the arrest of migrants by state law enforcement officers.

The law is on hold until March 13, with Texas required to respond to the Justice Department’s appeal by March 11. This development comes after the Justice Department sought an emergency intervention from the Supreme Court, challenging the Texas legislation that aimed to empower local law enforcement to detain migrants who illegally enter the United States from Mexico.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the Justice Department, argued that the Texas law disrupts a longstanding balance in immigration enforcement, stating, “The preliminary injunction entered by the district court simply maintains the longstanding status quo while this litigation proceeds; the court of appeals’ stay, on the other hand, would result in direct and irreparable harms to core federal interests.” This came in response to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to temporarily uphold the Texas law, counteracting a federal district judge’s earlier ruling to block the law.

The law, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, ignited a heated debate on immigration policy between Texas and the Biden administration. Under this legislation, individuals suspected of illegal entry could be arrested and, unless agreeing to leave the US, face misdemeanor charges. Following a federal lawsuit by the Justice Department, which argues the law violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, Federal Judge David Ezra halted the law’s implementation, a decision Texas immediately appealed.

Texas’s view:
The state attorney general’s office has highlighted the 5th Circuit’s temporary endorsement of the law, noting, “The emergency stay granted by the Fifth Circuit has itself been stayed for seven days to allow the federal government to seek review by the Supreme Court of the United States. Further, the Fifth Circuit ordered that this appeal be expedited and argued immediately.”


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