Texas migration law causes tough battle in courts

A law in the US state of Texas to stop irregular immigration continues to cause tough legal disputes. The US Supreme Court temporarily put the law into effect on Tuesday – just a few hours later an appeals court suspended it until further notice.

The law is intended to give Texas police the authority to apprehend and deport migrants who have arrived in the US state from Mexico without documents. The project is highly controversial because responsibility for migration matters has so far generally rested with the federal authorities and not with the state authorities.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a fellow party member and ally of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, signed the law in December. The governor complains of an “invasion” across the southern border. Texas has the right to “defend itself” against it, Abbott said. Like Trump, he blames President Joe Biden for the recent record number of migrants entering the country irregularly.

The law, called Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4”), makes it a crime to cross the border without valid documentation and allows Texas authorities to crack down on such immigrants. The project has been causing legal disputes for months.

At the end of February, the law was temporarily suspended by a federal judge based in the Texas capital Austin, and the Supreme Court in Washington did the same at the beginning of this week. A day later, the Supreme Court put “SB 4” into effect.

The Supreme Court rejected urgent applications from the Biden government, two non-governmental organizations and a Texas county. However, the Supreme Court did not comment on the content of the law, but left further examination to lower courts. Only a short time later, a federal appeals court suspended the law again while the project was being heard before this court. A new appeals court hearing on “SB 4” was scheduled for Wednesday.

Before the appeals court suspended the project again, the White House regretted the Supreme Court's decision in a statement. The law is “harmful and unconstitutional” and will cause “chaos and confusion” at the southern border, said Biden spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

On the Supreme Court, conservative justices hold a clear majority of six of the nine votes, reflecting Trump's appointment of three chief justices during his presidency. The supreme court's decision to temporarily put “SB 4” into effect – which was suspended again a short time later – was made against the votes of the three-member liberal minority in the jury.

Liberal Constitutional Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor said the decision “invites further chaos and a crisis in immigration enforcement.” The Texas law “overturns the balance of power between the federal government and the states that has existed for more than a century,” she criticized.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday (local time) that it would not accept migrants who had been deported by the Texas authorities. This also applies to Mexican citizens.

The dispute over immigration policy in the USA has also intensified during the election campaign for the White House. Trump and his Republicans are fueling fears of an increase in crime and drug problems due to high levels of immigration. Biden and his Democrats accuse the Republicans of blocking a solution to the migration issue for electoral reasons.

In the presidential election on November 5th, there will most likely be a new duel between Biden and Trump, after both have already secured the number of delegates necessary for their nomination in their parties' primaries.