Appeals court freezes Texas’ new SB4 immigration law

March 20, 2024 2:58 pm

[Source: BBC]

A federal appeals court has frozen Texas’ controversial immigration law, one of the toughest laws of its kind enacted by a US state in modern times.

The decision came just hours after the Supreme Court allowed the measure, SB4, to take effect pending an appeal.

The measure would allow officials in the state to detain and prosecute unauthorised migrants.

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Mexico has refused to accept any migrants deported by Texas under the new law.

The Biden administration has challenged SB4, calling it unconstitutional.

The decision to freeze the law is the latest in a string of rulings deciding its fate.

If it were to come back into effect it would mark a significant shift in how immigration enforcement is handled, as courts have previously ruled that only the federal government can enforce the country’s immigration laws – not individual US states.

Crossing the US border illegally is already a federal crime, but violations are usually handled as civil cases by the immigration court system.

Under SB4, punishments for illegal entry or re-entry into Texas range up to 20 years in prison.

While the law was briefly in effect, Mexico had refused to accept any migrants deported by Texas under SB4.

The Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday: “Mexico categorically rejects any measure that allows state or local authorities to exercise immigration control, and to arrest and return nationals or foreigners to Mexican territory.”