Texas lt gov lauds 'historic' SCOTUS ruling allowing state immigration law to be enforced while adjudicated

Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick lauded the Supreme Court’s ruling that his state’s border protection law, S.B. 4, may be enforced while a lawsuit against it is further adjudicated.

The Justice Department launched a lawsuit in January to nullify the law, which allows Texas to arrest illegal immigrants within its confines, arguing the federal government must “preserve its exclusive authority… to regulate the entry and removal of noncitzens.”

Patrick told Fox News on Tuesday he’s been “catching his breath” since the 6–3 ruling was handed down “because this is historic.”

“[The law] would give Texas the right to arrest those who are here illegally. We can put them in jail, or we can send them back,” he said, praising the law’s author, state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, for his work on it.

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“I was on Fox just yesterday morning and in kind of in a lighthearted way, I said, ‘I know the Supreme Court is listening as they get up for court this morning,'” he said. “We are being invaded by land, by sea, by air. It’s drones. It’s boats going into Florida. They have been taking drugs and illegal immigrants to Florida for years.”

Patrick acknowledged the ruling is only in force while the overall lawsuit is adjudicated, but said it is nonetheless a “big statement” from the federal judiciary.

“It sounds like the Court has made this decision that Texas has the right to defend ourselves against this organized, mobilized, cartel-driven invasion of our country,” he said.

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On “America Reports,” anchor John Roberts asked Patrick how a state like Texas would physically enforce such an immigration law, laying out the federal system of deportation that allows only foreign nationals from contiguous countries to be returned on foot, while others must be flown back.

Patrick replied the law first outlines that a suspect must be adjudicated to be in Texas or the United States illegally, and then they are fingerprinted and have their identities checked against criminal databases.

“And then… what [the] Senate bill says — it’s illegal to be here illegally at that point, they can agree… if they’re not a criminal or on the terrorist watchlist, if they don’t have any of those charges against them, they can agree to spend six months in jail or go back to Mexico,” he said.

A second conviction under S.B. 4 increases the penalty to that of a felony that would likely put the illegal immigrant in prison for many years, he added.

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In a response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the White House said it “fundamentally” disagreed with the order.

“S.B. 4 will not only make communities in Texas less safe, it will also burden law enforcement, and sow chaos and confusion at our southern border. S.B. 4 is just another example of Republican officials politicizing the border while blocking real solutions,” it said in a statement.

The overarching lawsuit now returns to the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit.

Fox News Digital’s Adam Shaw and Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

Charles Creitz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. 

He joined Fox News in 2013 as a writer and production assistant. 

Charles covers media, politics and culture for Fox News Digital.

Charles is a Pennsylvania native and graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. Story tips can be sent to [email protected].

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