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The U.S. Appeals Court discusses whether to block a Texas law aimed at migrants

Divided panel debates SB 4’s compatibility (Via Tony Smith/Getty Images)

A panel of judges from the U.S. appeals court is currently discussing Texas’s SB 4 law, which allows state authorities to arrest and prosecute migrants suspected of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals convened the panel to decide whether to keep SB 4 on hold while Texas appeals a judge’s decision to stop its enforcement.

If enacted, the law would make it illegal to enter or re-enter Texas from another country illegally. State judges could order violators to leave the U.S., potentially sentencing them to up to 20 years for non-compliance.

During Wednesday’s hearings, the three-judge panel showed differing views on whether SB 4 aligns with federal immigration laws.

Judge Priscilla Richman questioned the law’s novelty, noting no other state has claimed authority to expel undocumented residents.

U.S. appeals court mulls Texas law’s fate (Via Kanye Boult/Shutterstock)

Aaron Nielson, representing Texas, defended SB 4, arguing it mirrors federal laws criminalizing illegal border crossings and protects public safety.

Judge Andrew Oldham expressed skepticism about the Biden administration’s argument that SB 4 undermines federal enforcement, suggesting challenges in maintaining the law’s block during the court’s deliberations.

Daniel Tenny, representing the Biden administration, argued SB 4 interferes with federal enforcement and urged the court to uphold the block.

The panel also considered legal precedents, including a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision on an Arizona immigration law cautioning against state measures conflicting with federal mandates.

The court’s decision will significantly impact Texas’s ability to enforce its immigration policies and the broader federal-state jurisdiction in immigration matters.

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