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

FILE - An Amazon worker delivers packages in Los Angeles on Oct. 1, 2020. July sales events have be...

Associated Press

Amazon Prime Day deals are almost here. Should you take advantage of them?

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s summertime, and the bargains seem easy at a time when many consumer prices are high. July sales events have become a seasonal revenue driver for the retail industry since Amazon launched its first Prime Day back in 2015. While consumers may be enticed by the advertised can’t-miss savings on some […]

3 hours ago

A woman buys a copy of the British Mail on Sunday newspaper at a newsagents in London, Sunday, July...

Associated Press

Global leaders condemn assassination attempt targeting former US President Donald Trump

Global leaders expressed concern Sunday over an assassination attempt targeting former U.S. President Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania that left one attendee dead and critically injured two others. Trump’s campaign said the presumptive Republican nominee was doing “fine” after being whisked off the stage though the shooting pierced the upper part of his […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Shooting kills 3 people including a young child in a car on an Alabama street

Three people including a young child were killed when their car was targeted with multiple gunshots outside a residence in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday evening. The Birmingham Police Department said in a social media post that a triple homicide investigation was underway in the 3400 Block of 27th Street North. The police said officers responded […]

5 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Service a...

Associated Press

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman who shot and injured Trump was able to get so close

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman was able to get close enough to shoot at former President Donald Trump at a rally Saturday.

6 hours ago

Carlton Smith, left, and Justin Nimmo pose in from of the console of the Barton Opus 234 theater or...

Associated Press

Reviving Hollywood glamor of the silent movie era, experts piece together a century-old pipe organ

DETROIT (AP) — A massive pipe organ that underscored the drama and comedy of silent movies with live music in Detroit’s ornate Hollywood Theatre nearly a century ago was dismantled into thousands of pieces and stashed away. The Barton Opus, built in 1927, spent four decades stored in a garage, attic and basement in suburban […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, left, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator ...

Associated Press

Can a Medicaid plan that requires work succeed? First year of Georgia experiment is not promising

ATLANTA (AP) — By now, Georgia officials expected their new Medicaid plan, the only one in the nation with a work requirement, to provide health insurance to 25,000 low-income residents and possibly tens of thousands more. But a year since its launch, Pathways to Coverage has roughly 4,300 members, much lower than what state officials […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

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.

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