Court battle over SB 4 resumes, Texas lawyer says the state may have gone ‘too far’

Court battle over SB 4 resumes, Texas lawyer says the state may have gone ‘too far’

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The New Orleans 5th Circuit Court of Appeals began hearing oral arguments on Wednesday morning from each side of the trenches on the battle over Texas’ new immigration law Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), which would allow state and local law enforcement to arrest and deport migrants suspected of crossing the border illegally.

“They have tried to develop a statute that goes up to the line of Supreme Court precedent but allows Texas to protect the border. Now, to be fair, maybe Texas went too far, and that’s the question this court is going to have to decide,” said Texas’ Solicitor General Aaron Nielson, as Texas tries to defend the law.

Advocates on the other side of the aisle were concerned that the arguments made by Texas’ lawyers on how the law would be handled by state and local law enforcement is not written, and questioned how they would be enforced.

“It’s scary because the way the arguments were going was that the state was asked a bunch of detailed questions about how the law would go into effect, and their answers were nowhere to be found in the law itself,” said Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center’s director of legal services, Jennifer Babaie. “Such as ‘it’ll only be limited to people who law enforcement visibly sees crossing the border,’ for example. That was something said in court today. That’s not written anywhere in the laws.”

El Paso-based Las Americas is one of several advocacy groups fighting back against the law in one of the lawsuits being reviewed by the courts.

This latest chapter of the legal battle over SB 4 is seemingly inching closer to a decision on whether the law goes against the constitution or not.

SB 4 nearly went into effect last month when the US Supreme Court reversed an injunction on the law ordered by a federal district court in Austin, TX.

That same night, the injunction was reinstated by the 5th Circuit Court. These back-and-forth arguments were solely about debating whether the law should be allowed to go into effect as the legal process plays out.

“That’s playing out through the courts, and so it’s gone ping pong back and forth at the different levels of courts,” said Las Americas Executive Director Marisa Limon-Garza.

The arguments being discussed at court on Wednesday now shift towards deciding if SB 4 can legally move forward.

El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks, who is a defendant in one of the lawsuits being reviewed by the courts, has argued that he was wrongfully sued by El Paso County and Las Americas.

Hicks said that he neither advocates for or against SB 4, but said part of the law may be enacted.

“The first part of the law, which is that it is illegal to come into the state of Texas immediately from another country unless you go through a port of entry. I’ve been told that they believe that is most likely going to pass constitutional muster,” said Hicks.

Whatever the 5th Circuit Court decides, it is expected to be appealed by either side and make its way back to the Supreme Court.

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