Hours After SCOTUS Approval, Court Halts Implementation of Texas Law Criminalizing Unauthorized Border Crossings

The Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals has once more suspended Texas’ SB4 law, which criminalizes unauthorized border crossings. Shortly after the Supreme Court lifted a stay on the law, the Fifth Circuit issued a late Tuesday ruling, with a vote of 2-1, preventing the law from being implemented.

This development occurred shortly after Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative member of the Supreme Court, issued an order on Monday to reinstate a temporary freeze.

Since Governor Greg Abbott signed SB4 into law in December, it has been entangled in legal uncertainty.


According to Fox News, the Fifth Circuit is scheduled to listen to arguments in the case on Wednesday.

“A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that alters the status quo,” Judge Andrew Oldham wrote in the dissenting opinion from the Fifth Circuit. “A stay preserves the status quo while an appellate court reviews the lawfulness of that alteration.”

“Earlier today, the Supreme Court of the United States restored an administrative stay so our panel could review the State’s request for emergency relief under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 8,” he continued. “I would leave that stay in place pending tomorrow’s oral argument on the question.”

In the SCOTUS ruling on Tuesday, the justices wrote that “Texas Senate Bill 4 (S. B. 4) permits the State to arrest and remove to Mexico noncitizens who enter, attempt to enter, or reside in Texas.” 

“Before this Court intervenes on the emergency docket, the Fifth Circuit should be the first mover,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote in the Supreme Court’s decision.

“So far as I know, this Court has never reviewed the decision of a court of appeals to enter — or not enter — an administrative stay,” she wrote. “I would not get into the business. When entered, an administrative stay is supposed to be a short-lived prelude to the main event: a ruling on the motion for a stay pending appeal.” 

SCOTUS did not rule on the merits of the case.