Texas border crisis: SB 4 on hold pending SCOTUS review

The new Texas immigration enforcement law SB 4 remains on hold until next week. A review is being done by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

A state lawmaker who helped write the legislation, and a lawyer from a civil rights group that’s challenging the law, spoke to FOX 7 about this high-stakes, high court showdown.

A migrant caught illegally crossing the border in south Texas can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor and given jail time under SB 4. The law includes a unique Plea Deal option where charges can be dropped if the migrant agrees to return to an official port of entry. 

A re-direction approach to the border crisis that was moved through the Texas House by State Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro).

"There is absolutely an invasion going on, and we're doing our best to address it," said Rep. Spiller.

What state lawmakers passed last year in the Fourth Special Session, according to Spiller, does not conflict with federal law.

"It's based on the existing federal law, 8 U.S.C. 1225, for illegal entry," Rep. Spiller said. "And that's the same federal law that's been on the books. When I say for decades, I'm talking about 70 years this law has been in effect."

That claim is being challenged in a court document filed by a coalition of civil rights groups. The request, spearheaded by the ACLU and the Texas Civil Rights Project, was an attempt to prevent a Federal Appeals Court decision to allow SB 4 to start enforcement this week. 

The petition was made as the U.S. Supreme Court issued its own hold, which remains until at least March 13. A welcomed time out, according to ACLU of Texas attorney Adriana Pinon.

"The preliminary injunction is a significant win. The work we're doing right now is to ensure that the preliminary injunction keeps SB 4 from being enforced as we continue litigating," said Pinion.


The civil rights attorneys argue federal immigration law is being violated by SB 4.

"It's just not the case that SB 4 does not conflict," Pinion said. "The law makes it a false choice to say, oh, it's voluntary to cross the border because if a person doesn't, they face 20 years in jail. So it's a coercive measure. It is a deportation."

If SB 4 is allowed to be enforced after March 13, repeat offenders could be charged with a second-degree felony. And that could bring jail time ranging from two to 20 years. 

"I think that the US Supreme Court will send this back down and say, y’all can have a trial on this, but we're not going to stop the temporary implementation of SB 4," Spiller said. "And at the end of the day, I believe it's going to be held completely constitutional."