UNITED STATES NEWS

Anticipation and anger on Texas border as strict immigration law again on hold

Mar 20, 2024, 6:00 PM

Texas immigration law causes border confusion in courts...

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, lifted a stay on a Texas law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of crossing the border illegally, while a legal battle over immigration authority plays out. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A dizzying volley of courtroom maneuvers over a Texas immigration law that would allow the state to arrest and deport people who enter the U.S. illegally sowed confusion at the nation’s border with Mexico on Wednesday as sheriffs, police chiefs and migrants waited for direction.

Texas faced skeptical questioning during a hearing before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ended without a ruling, leaving the new law on hold for now.

It was part of a flurry of activity that included a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed the law to take effect for several hours Tuesday.

And regardless of how the three-judge panel rules, the legal saga over Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest escalation to prevent illegal border crossings won’t be over.

Yolanis Campo, 42, who traveled from Colombia and crossed the Rio Grande to enter the U.S. from Mexico with her 16-year-old daughter, recommended other migrants take another route because of the confusion over Texas’ law.

Campo was processed by Border Patrol agents who released her with an ankle bracelet to pursue her immigration case.

“It’s more complicated because (federal authorities) tell us we can move on, but this new rule, this new law complicates everything because it says we can’t move on,” said Campo, who was staying at a shelter in McAllen.

What judges are saying about new Texas immigration law

During Wednesday’s hearing, 5th Circuit Chief Judge Priscilla Richman questioned how the state law would be carried out, including how Texas would respond if federal authorities don’t cooperate with a state judge’s order to deport someone. No arrests were reported while it was in effect Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said it would not have authority to deport under the state law.

“This is uncharted because we don’t have any cases on it,” said Texas Solicitor General Aaron Nielson.

The Justice Department has argued that Texas’ law is a clear violation of federal authority and would create chaos at the border.

The department’s lawyers faced a grilling from Judge Andrew Oldham, who was appointed by Republican President Donald Trump. The third judge on the panel, Judge Irma Ramirez, an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, previously voted to keep the law on hold.

How would this new Texas immigration law impact migrants?

Richman, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, challenged Texas’ assertion that it is exercising a “core police power,” getting Nielsen to acknowledge that deporting people has been a federal responsibility. But Nielsen denied that Texas is “trying to take over the field” on border enforcement and said the state wants to cooperate with the federal government to address the issue.

Nielsen also said he did not know how the law would affect someone who entered the country illegally but came to Texas from another state.

Republican legislators wrote the law so that it applies in all of the state’s 254 counties, although Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said he expects it will mostly be enforced near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Dozens of sheriffs met in Austin on Wednesday to rally support for Abbott, but they offered varied explanations about how they would enforce the law. Those farther from the border said they expected to have little to do with it.

“We’re not going to be targeting minorities or anything like that.” McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara, whose office is a few hundred miles from the border. “Our good citizens don’t need to be worried about the police, especially in McLennan County.”

Why the Justice Department is challenging this new law in Texas

The Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the law. It instead kicked back to the lower appeals court a challenge led by the Justice Department. The 5th Circuit has been considering the state’s appeal of a scathing injunction from a lower-court judge that put the law on hold.

Under the Texas law, once migrants are in custody on illegal entry charges, they can agree to a judge’s order to leave the U.S. or face prosecution. However, Mexico has said it would refuse to take back anyone who is ordered to cross the border.

“Of course we’re against this draconian law, completely opposed,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday during his daily press briefing.

Other GOP-led states are already looking to follow Texas’ path.

In Iowa, lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill that would also give its state law enforcement the power to arrest people who are in the U.S. illegally and have previously been denied entry into the country. If Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signs it, it would take effect in July.

Arrests in illegal crossings fell in Texas, rose in Arizona

The confusion in Texas resembles other immigration battles during the Trump and Biden administrations, fueled by congressional inaction. In 2020, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a Trump policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court but said its order applied only in California and Arizona and not in New Mexico or Texas because those border states were outside its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court later said the policy should remain in effect across the border.

Arrests for illegal crossings fell by half in January from a record-high of 250,000 in December, with sharp declines in Texas. Tucson, Arizona, has been the busiest corridor in recent months, followed by San Diego in January, but reasons for sudden shifts are often complicated and are dictated by smuggling organizations.

When Biden visited the Rio Grande Valley for his second trip to the border as president last month, administration officials credited Mexico for heightened enforcement on that part of the border. They said conditions were more challenging for Mexican law enforcement in Sonora, the state that lies south of Arizona.

___

Whitehurst reported from Washington. Also contributing were Associated Press writers Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas; Elliot Spagat in San Diego; Christopher Sherman in Mexico City; and Scott McFetridge in Des Moines, Iowa.

United States News

Associated Press

Kevin Bacon dances back to “Footloose” high school

PAYSON, Utah (AP) — Actor Kevin Bacon on Saturday returned to the Utah high school where the cult classic movie “Footloose” was filmed more than 40 years. Bacon danced his way to a stage on a Payson High School athletic field Saturday to greet students before what likely was the final prom held at the […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Arkansas teen held on murder charge after fatal shooting outside party after high school prom

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas teen is in custody on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the fatal shooting of a high school senior outside a party early Sunday following a high school prom. Donterious Stephens, 19, of Helena, turned himself in to authorities Sunday afternoon in the shooting death of Lorenzo […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Terry Anderson, AP reporter held captive for years, has died

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Terry Anderson, the globe-trotting Associated Press correspondent who became one of America’s longest-held hostages after he was snatched from a street in war-torn Lebanon in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, has died at 76. Anderson, who chronicled his abduction and torturous imprisonment by Islamic militants in his best-selling 1993 […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Suspect in killing of Idaho sheriff’s deputy fatally shot by police, authorities say

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho sheriff’s deputy died after being shot by a driver during a traffic stop, and a man believed to be the shooting suspect was later fatally shot by police, authorities said Sunday. Deputy Tobin Bolter was shot as he approached the driver’s window at about 9 p.m. Saturday in Boise, […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman, 18, dies after being shot at Delaware State University; campus closed

DOVER, Del. (AP) — An 18-year-old woman died after she was shot on the campus of Delaware State University on Sunday, authorities said. Dover police said officers responded at about 1:40 a.m. to a report of shots on the campus. Police said an 18-year-old Wilmington woman who was not a registered student was found with […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

North Carolina medical marijuana sales begin at Cherokee store

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — Medical marijuana can now be legally purchased in North Carolina with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opening its long-planned dispensary this weekend on tribal land. Hundreds of people, many with approved medical patient cards to purchase items, celebrated the historic opening of the Great Smoky Cannabis Co. on Saturday within […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Anticipation and anger on Texas border as strict immigration law again on hold