A federal appeals court has issued an order that prevents Texas from arresting migrants suspected of entering the US illegally, hours after the supreme court allowed the strict new immigration law to take effect.

The decision by the 5th US circuit court of appeals comes weeks after a panel on the same court cleared the way for Texas to enforce the law, known as SB4, by putting a pause on a lower judge’s injunction.

But a panel of the appeals court lifted that pause ahead of arguments on Wednesday.

Texas authorities had not yet announced any arrests made under the law.

Earlier Tuesday a divided supreme court had allowed Texas to begin enforcing the law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of crossing the border illegally, as court battles over the measure played out.

The supreme court order rejected an emergency application from the Biden administration, which says the law is a clear violation of federal authority that would cause chaos.

Texas governor Greg Abbott had praised the law which allows any police officer in Texas to arrest migrants for illegal entry and authorises judges to order them to leave the US.

The supreme court didn’t address whether the law is constitutional and the measure was sent to the appeals court, which made its ruling late on Tuesday.

Earlier, Mexico’s government said it would not “under any circumstances” accept the return of any migrants to its territory from the state of Texas.

In a sharply worded statement, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary said it would refuse to take anyone back who is ordered to leave the country under the state law which it “categorically rejects”.

The Department of Homeland Security said the federal government would also continue the court challenge to the law that will “further complicate” the job of its “already strained” workforce. The agency won’t assist in any efforts to enforce the law known as Senate Bill 4 (SB4).

The supreme court’s majority did not write a detailed opinion in the case, as is typical in emergency appeals. But the decision to let the law go into effect drew dissents from liberal justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

“The Court gives a green light to a law that will upend the longstanding federal-state balance of power and sow chaos,” Sotomayor wrote in a blistering dissent joined by Jackson.

The law is considered by opponents to be the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since an Arizona law more than a decade ago, portions of which were struck down by the supreme court. Critics have also said the Texas law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling.

White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, called the law “harmful and unconstitutional” and said it would burden law enforcement while creating confusion. She called on congressional Republicans to settle the issue with a federal border security bill.

Texas, for its part, has argued it has a right to take action over what authorities have called an ongoing crisis at the southern border.

The law allows police in counties bordering Mexico to make arrests if they see someone crossing illegally, the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas has said. It could also be enforced elsewhere in Texas if someone is arrested on suspicion of another violation and a fingerprint taken during jail booking links them to a suspected re-entry violation.

Arrests for illegal crossings along the southern border hit record highs in December but fell by half in January, a shift attributed to seasonal declines and heightened enforcement. The federal government has not yet released numbers for February.

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