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Supreme Court Says Texas Police Can Go Ahead and Arrest Migrants

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Texas can begin enforcing a controversial immigration law that allows state law enforcement to arrest individuals on suspicion of being undocumented border crossers. Hours later, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the state from acting on the court’s decision.

In a 6-3 ruling, with the three liberal justices dissenting, the court ruled that the state will be allowed to enforce the legislation known as Senate Bill 4 pending a federal appeal — despite concerns that the law will lead to instances of racial profiling and violations of the Fourth Amendment’s constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that the ruling “gives a green light to a law that will upend the longstanding federal-state balance of power and sow chaos.”

The decision is a stark reversal from a May Supreme Court decision that temporarily halted the enforcement of the legislation. Last year, a coalition of civil rights groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union — called S.B. 4 “the most extreme anti-immigration law passed by any state legislature in the country.”

“We have long warned that this law will separate families, lead to racial profiling across the state, and harm people across the state as Governor [Greg] Abbott continues his relentless campaign against people who are immigrants. We urge the Supreme Court to undo the appeals court’s administrative stay and preserve the decision keeping this harmful law from going into effect,” they wrote.

The conservative-controlled Supreme Court was, for the moment, unconvinced.

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