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US court pauses block on Texas law on illegal border crossings

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LA Post: US court pauses block on Texas law on illegal border crossings
Reuters
Daniel Wiessner
March 04, 2024

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court temporarily set aside a judge's ruling that blocked a Texas law giving state officials broad powers to arrest, prosecute and order the removal of people who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

The order on Saturday from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means the law, known as SB4, could take effect as the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden pursues claims that it interferes with the federal government's enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

But the 5th Circuit said it would stay its decision for seven days to give the federal government a chance to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, and the U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

If the Supreme Court does not reverse the 5th Circuit's decision, SB4 would take effect pending Texas' appeal of last week's decision by U.S. District Judge David Ezra in Austin.

In his ruling, Ezra had said the Biden administration is likely to prevail in its legal challenge, citing a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of a similar Arizona immigration law.

The Texas law would make it a state crime to illegally enter or re-enter Texas from a foreign country and would give state and local law enforcement the power to arrest and prosecute violators. It also would allow state judges to order that individuals leave the country, with prison sentences up to 20 years for those who refuse to comply.

SB4 is part of a larger effort by the Republican-led state to crack down on illegal border crossings. Paxton, Republican Governor Greg Abbott and other state officials have blamed Biden for a record increase in illegal migration and has said the state's actions, including installing razor wire fencing at the border and a floating barrier in the Rio Grande river, were necessary because of federal inaction.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Jonathan Oatis)

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