Suspension of controversial Texas law criminalizing illegal immigration lifted

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted the suspension of a controversial Texas law that criminalizes illegal entry into this state bordering Mexico, encroaching on the prerogatives of federal authorities.

This decision, which the conservative majority Court motivates for purely procedural reasons, provisionally allows the entry into force of the law, initially scheduled for March 5, but blocked by a federal court in this southern state.

A declared supporter of Donald Trump, who made the rejection of immigration a major axis of his electoral campaign, the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has openly defied for months the authority of the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden. He accuses it of “deliberate inaction” in the face of the influx of migrants which he describes as an “invasion”.

The White House deplored in a statement the Supreme Court’s decision “allowing the harmful and unconstitutional Texas law to take effect,” saying it “will sow chaos and confusion at the southern border.”

An ultraconservative appeals court had lifted the stay pronounced by the federal trial judge, subject to an order from the Supreme Court.

The three progressive judges dissociated themselves from the decision taken Tuesday by the six conservative judges of the highest court in the country.

The court of appeal “should have taken into consideration the constitutionality and irreparable damage caused by the law before allowing it to come into force,” writes one of them, Sonia Sotomayor. “This Court makes the same mistake,” she adds.

The law known as “SB 4”, signed in December by the governor, creates a “criminal offense of illegal entry into Texas from a foreign country”, punishable by six months in prison, or up to 20 years in the event of of recurrence.

Giving state authorities the power to arrest migrants and deport them to Mexico, it is contested by the Ministry of Justice, NGOs supporting immigrants and a local community.

“States do not have powers over immigration unless authorized by the federal government,” the trial judge emphasized on February 29, warning that this law “would pave the way for the adoption by each state of its own version of the immigration laws.

The law also undermines “the foreign relations of the United States and its treaty obligations,” he added, with particular reference to relations with Mexico.

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