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Supreme Court extends stay of Texas border security law

After Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Justice Samuel Alito granted two consecutive stays preventing a new Texas border security law from going into effect, giving time for both parties to file briefs, the high court extended its stay order on Monday.

Senate Bill (SB) 4 was passed during a special session of the 88th Texas Legislature. The law prohibits any foreign national from illegally entering the United States between the ports of entry, and also allows state judges to issue deportation orders for anyone charged or convicted of violating the new law.

Numerous plaintiffs challenged the law in federal court, including nonprofit group the Los Americas Advocacy Center as well as El Paso County and the U.S. Department of Justice.

A federal district judge granted the first order in the case blocking SB 4 from taking effect on March 5. Then the U.S. 5th Circuit lifted that injunction, allowing the law to take effect pending intervention by SCOTUS, which intervened with the two stay orders from Justice Alito.

The decision by SCOTUS to allow a state-level immigration enforcement law to become effective could mark a historic moment in the ongoing legal battle between the State of Texas and the federal government fueled by the crisis at the southern border.

A previous attempt by Arizona to regulate the entry of foreign nationals into the country was struck down by the high court in 2012 with a 5 to 3 decision determining federal immigration law preempted state powers.

However, two dissenting voices in that decision, Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas are still on the court. Alongside several new justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, a new majority could lead to the Arizona case being overturned, or at least finding a new legal pathway for state powers that complement federal immigration policy.

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