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Texas Immigration Law Faces Supreme Court Showdown

Migrants wait to be processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico, Oct. 19, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. The U.S. 5th Circuit

A legal battle over Texas' plan to arrest migrants who enter the U.S. illegally is set to be decided by the Supreme Court, raising questions about the federal government's authority over immigration. The high court recently blocked Texas' immigration law from taking effect until March 13, following an emergency request from the Justice Department.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law in December, granting state officers the power to arrest individuals suspected of entering the country illegally. Those arrested could either agree to leave the country under a Texas judge's order or face misdemeanor charges for illegal entry. Repeat offenders could face felony charges.

The Justice Department argued that the law would disrupt the longstanding balance between federal and state authority on immigration matters and could strain U.S. relations with Mexico. The federal government cited a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that rejected a similar Arizona law, emphasizing the need for federal control over immigration policy.

Despite claims of an 'invasion' along the southern border, a federal judge ruled that the Texas law violates the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause and conflicts with federal immigration laws. The judge warned against allowing states to nullify federal authority, emphasizing the importance of upholding federal law.

Supporters of the law argue that it targets new arrivals at the border and not immigrants already residing in the U.S. Texas has a history of arresting migrants based on criminal trespass charges.

This legal dispute is part of a broader conflict between Texas officials and the Biden Administration over border security measures. Governor Abbott's efforts, including a floating barrier in the Rio Grande and razor wire along the border, have faced legal challenges. The state has also restricted access to federal agents in certain areas.

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