Litigation Tracker: While SB4 Ping-Pongs, DHS Ordered to Build Border Barriers & Razor Wire Case Gets Hearing

As we continue to celebrate a win defending the CHNV Parole Program, we’re also keeping track of developments in anti-immigrant legislation moving through the courts. For example, we’re processing the whiplash (administratively speaking) of Texas’s SB4, which was preliminarily enjoined on Feb. 29  by the district court; briefly allowed to go into effect by the Fifth Circuit; then administratively blocked by the Supreme Court for a couple of weeks; then allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court for several hours until the Fifth Circuit temporarily blocked the injunction again. (Phew!) See below and our microsite for key March developments in extremist litigation challenge immigrant-inclusive policies. 

Federal District Court Says DHS Must Use Border Wall Money for “Physical Barriers”

On the same day the Southern District Court of Texas held that Texas lacks standing to challenge the CHNV parole programs, the court reached the opposite conclusion in Texas’s lawsuit over the Biden Administration’s use of border wall funds. There, the court preliminarily enjoined DHS’s plans to use the appropriations to repair existing walls, complete existing barrier systems, and to address environmental damage caused by prior border wall construction, holding that the funds may only be used for “the construction of physical barriers, such as additional walls, fencing, buoys, etc.” As to standing, the court held that Texas had proven that “additional physical barriers, if built, would result in fewer [undocumented immigrants] entering the country.” The Biden Administration has sought additional time to comply with the injunction (it now goes into effect tomorrow) and has not indicated whether it will appeal. 

District Court Holds Two-Day Hearing in Texas Razor Wire Case, but Isn’t Sure Why

As instructed by the Fifth Circuit, earlier this month the Western District of Texas held an evidentiary hearing about what happened in Del Rio in January, when three migrants drowned while the Fifth Circuit injunction on cutting Texas’s razor wire was in effect. Per reports, the court frequently expressed consternation at being ordered to hold the hearing in the first place, given its apparent lack of purpose and the court’s heavy workload, repeatedly observing that nothing that happened in January is relevant to what the Fifth Circuit has before it—the appeal of the district court’s decision two months earlier to deny Texas its requested injunction, which is on hold awaiting the court’s findings of fact.  

As always, we’ll keep you posted on these and other cases.   

Thanks for reading,  

Esther Sung
Legal Director

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