NATIONAL NEWS

How Texas’ plans to arrest migrants for illegal entry would work

Mar 15, 2024, 9:05 PM | Updated: Mar 19, 2024, 9:38 pm

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A law that would allow Texas law enforcement to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S. is back on hold.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday issued an order preventing its enforcement, just hours after the Supreme Court allowed the strict new immigration law to take effect.

The Justice Department is challenging the law, saying Texas is overstepping the federal government’s immigration authority. Texas argues it has a right to take action over what the governor has described as an “invasion” of migrants on the border.

Here’s what to know:

WHO CAN BE ARRESTED?

The law would allow any Texas law enforcement officer to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally. Once in custody, migrants could either agree to a Texas judge’s order to leave the U.S. or be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of illegal entry. Migrants who don’t leave could face arrest again under more serious felony charges.

Arresting officers must have probable cause, which could include witnessing the illegal entry or seeing it on video.

The law cannot be enforced against people lawfully present in the U.S., including those who were granted asylum or who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Critics, including Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, fear the law could lead to racial profiling and family separation. American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Texas and some neighboring states issued a travel advisory a day after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law. The advisory warns of a possible threat to civil and constitutional rights when passing through Texas.

Abbott has rejected concerns over profiling. While signing the bill, he said troopers and National Guard members at the border can see migrants crossing illegally “with their own eyes.”

WHERE WOULD THE LAW BE ENFORCED?

The law can be enforced in any of Texas’ 254 counties, including those hundreds of miles from the border.

But Republican state Rep. David Spiller, the law’s author, has said he expects the vast majority of arrests would occur within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas’ state police chief has expressed similar expectations.

Some places are off-limits. Arrests cannot be made in public and private schools; places of worship; or hospitals and other health care facilities, including those where sexual assault forensic examinations are conducted.

It is unclear where migrants ordered to leave might go. The law says they are to be sent to ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, even if they are not Mexican citizens. However, Mexico’s government said Tuesday it would not accept the return of any migrants to its territory from the state of Texas.

IS THE LAW CONSTITUTIONAL?

The Supreme Court’s decision did not address the constitutionality of the law.

The Justice Department, legal experts and immigrant rights groups have said it is a clear conflict with the U.S. government’s authority to regulate immigration.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, agreed in a 114-page order. He added that the law could hamper U.S. foreign relations and treaty obligations.

Opponents have called the measure the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since a 2010 Arizona law — denounced by critics as the “Show Me Your Papers” bill — that was largely struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ezra cited the Supreme Court’s 2012 Arizona ruling in his decision.

Texas has argued that the law mirrors federal law instead of conflicting with it.

WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE BORDER?

Arrests for illegal crossings along the southern border fell by half in January from record highs in December. Border Patrol officials attributed the shift to seasonal declines and heightened enforcement by the U.S. and its allies. The federal government has not yet released numbers for February.

Texas has charged thousands of migrants with trespassing on private property under a more limited operation that began in 2021.

Tensions remain between Texas and the Biden administration. In the border city of Eagle Pass, Texas, National Guard members have prevented Border Patrol agents from accessing a riverfront park.

Other Republican governors have expressed support for Abbott, who has said the federal government is not doing enough to enforce immigration laws. Other measures implemented by Texas include a floating barrier in the Rio Grande and razor wire along the border.

___

Associated Press writers Acacia Coronado and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

National News

Associated Press

Arizona man sold firearms to undercover FBI agent for mass shooting, indictment says

PHOENIX (AP) — A firearms dealer in Arizona sold weapons to an undercover federal agent he believed would help him carry out his plan for a mass shooting targeting minorities, an attack that he hoped would “incite a race war,” according to a federal grand jury indictment. Mark Adams Prieto was indicted Tuesday by the […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Tennessee sheriff indicted for profiting from inmate labor, misusing funds

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The sheriff of a rural Tennessee county illegally profited from the work of jail inmates under his supervision and housed dozens of them in a home outside of the prison without permission, officials said Wednesday. Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas was indicted in May in Gibson and Davidson counties on 22 […]

6 hours ago

How Texas’ plans to arrest migrants for illegal entry would work