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Supreme Court allows Texas to arrest migrants at the border

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, called the decision “appallingly cruel”

Customs and Border Protection agents at the Rio Grande Valley in Texas process undocumented immigrants / CBP

Setting off furor across the country, the Supreme Court March 19 voted 6-3 to allow Texas border patrol to immediately deport migrants and asylum seekers arriving on the border.

Texas SB 4, on which the case was based, was briefly in effect after the ruling. But later that evening, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency order blocking the law’s immediate implementation. The Fifth Circuit is expected to hear arguments March 20 challenging the constitutionality of SB 4.

The bill allows police to question and arrest anyone they believe entered Texas through Mexico illegally and is currently without legal immigration status. The White House says SB 4 is unconstitutional, and encroaches on the federal government’s sole authority over immigration.

Critics say the bill could also lead to racial profiling, and — in the extreme — possible deportations of legal migrants who don’t have their immigration papers with them when detained. SB 4 has been dubbed by critics as the “show me your papers” bill.

“This is an appallingly cruel and clearly unconstitutional law,” tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “This legislation will not only create chaos, confusion, and disorder in the immigration system — it will lead to racial profiling of immigrant and minority communities, stoking fear in communities across Texas,” she said.

“SB4 turns immigration enforcement on its head, requiring local police to carry out federal immigration functions.  It undercuts the trust local police need to help ensure safer communities. That is why this ‘show me your papers’ legislation is opposed by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and members of the Texas Major Cities Chiefs, which includes the police chiefs in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Arlington, Fort Worth, and San Antonio,” tweeted Jayapal, calling the bill “xenophobic.”

David Donatti, Senior Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told CBS News in Austin, Texas that the law now has some people of color in Texas asking themselves, "do I look like an American? I feel I belong here, but do I look like I belong here to other people?"

The ACLU has said that SB 4 is “one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws ever passed by any state legislature” in the US.

Immigrant advocates have urged Texas residents who are detained or arrested on suspicion of being undocumented to refuse a search, refuse to identify yourself unless you are the driver, and ask for an attorney. They have suggested that all people of color in Texas carry proof of their legal residency with them at all times.

Texas has one of the largest populations of Indian Americans in the US. Residents of color would be forced to keep their immigration documents on their persons at all times in order to avoid detention and possible expulsion from the US.

The number of undocumented Indians crossing the US-Mexico border has been dramatically climbing: 30,662 were detained by Customs and Border Protection in 2021, and 63,927 were detained in 2022. Many Indian American detainees — primarily Punjabis — are taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers where they experience long wait times before their claim for asylum is heard in court.

Mexico immediately responding to the Supreme Court ruling, saying it would not take immigrants deported by Texas.

 

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