A US appeals court has struck down a Texas immigration law

A A new Texas law empowering state officials to detain and deport immigrants will be put on hold. After a divided appeals court ruling late Tuesday, it said the laws “significantly curtail the discretionary exercise of federal immigration officials.”

A 2-1 decision announced by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit followed conflicting rulings on the new state law, which the Supreme Court briefly allowed to go into effect last week.

The justices urged the 5th Circuit to take further action on the law, and a three-judge panel of the appeals court temporarily suspended it and held a hearing on the matter.

The panel issued its verdict late Tuesday.

The subject of the ruling would be state legislation known as Senate Bill 4 is on hold Cases to overturn it go through the courts.

The same three-judge panel, based in New Orleans, has scheduled a hearing for April 3 to review a lower court ruling last month that ruled the law unconstitutional and blocked it from taking effect. In that ruling, U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra, a Republican nominee in Austin, said the law intruded more into federal powers over immigration than the Arizona immigration law that the Supreme Court partially struck down in 2012.

Texas Republicans led by Greg Abbott passed SB 4 last year. It is with the US authorities He was arrested An average of 2 million migrants cross the US-Mexico border each year Illegally That's the highest the Border Patrol has ever recorded since Biden took office.

Democrats countered that Republicans are refusing to pass a bipartisan Senate bill that would address immigration by expanding enforcement. The Biden administration has accused Republicans of stalling in response Former President Donald Trump, an immigration hardliner, has denounced the bill and is the Republican nominee to challenge Biden in the November presidential election.

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Texas law makes it a crime for a noncitizen to enter the state illegally from another country. Immigrants charged with breaking the law can face up to six months in prison, while those who return after deportation face criminal charges and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The law empowers state judges to order deportation to Mexico. However, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his government would reject any attempt by Texas officials to send migrants to Mexico.

The Texas law was challenged in court by the Biden administration in January and last year by a pair of Texas nonprofit groups and the county government of El Paso.

At least one lawsuit has been filed against the state law on behalf of Texas community organization La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), and four unidentified immigrants who allege they are eligible to stay in the United States legally but could be targeted for deportation under Texas law.

In its decision to block the law late Tuesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals noted: “For nearly 150 years, the Supreme Court has held that the power to control immigration — the entry, admission and removal of noncitizens — is an exclusively federal power. Despite this basic principle, [Senate Bill 4] Creates separate, distinct state criminal offenses and related procedures related to the unauthorized entry and removal of non-citizens from out of state into Texas. The 50-page ruling stated that “Texas entry and removal laws also significantly affect the discretionary exercise of federal immigration authorities.”

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President George W. Bush's nominee Chief Justice Priscilla Richman wrote the decision and was joined by Circuit Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez, who was nominated to the federal bench by Biden.

In a 71-page dissent, Judge Andrew S. Oldham, a Trump nominee and former general counsel to Abbott, said the ruling “means government is forever helpless: Texas can do nothing because Congress has done everything but non-federal enforcement. Congress's everything means nothing.”

This is a growing story. It will be updated. William Branikin and Ann E. Marimov contributed to this report.

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