Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information following a March 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court delayed on March 4 a new law allowing Texas law enforcement to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants.

The law is on hold until at least 5 p.m. March 13 as the Supreme Court considers the case.

What's happening?

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s order is the latest in a series of events that began Feb. 29.

The new law, Senate Bill 4, was originally scheduled to take effect March 5 after lawmakers approved it last fall. SB 4 would give state and local police the power to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border, and judges could order them to leave the country.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra blocked the law on Feb. 29. Ezra rejected arguments that Texas faces an “invasion” by undocumented migrants and said the law would cause “grave irreparable harm” to the federal government, which enforces immigration restrictions.

A day later, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Ezra’s ruling. The conservative appeals court gave the federal government seven days to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court on March 4 to keep the law on hold.

“[SB 4] would fundamentally disrupt the federal immigration regime to allow a single state to make unilateral determinations regarding unlawful entry and removal,” the federal government’s filing said. “Allowing a single state to imprison foreign nationals for immigration violations or order them removed from the United States to a non-consenting foreign country without regard to the interests of the Nation as a whole is patently inconsistent with the framework Congress enacted.”

The backstory

Texas lawmakers approved SB 4 last fall. If the law goes into effect, it would give Texas unprecedented authority in immigration restrictions and deportation.

Undocumented migrants could spend up to six months in jail or be fined $2,000 under SB 4. Repeat offenders would face higher penalties.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 4 in December. The U.S. Department of Justice, El Paso County and two immigrant rights groups later sued Texas, arguing the law was unconstitutional and would promote racial profiling.

The Supreme Court has considered state immigration enforcement laws before. In 2012, the court struck down portions of an Arizona law that would have made it a state crime to be in the country without documentation.

In December, Abbott said he “[welcomed] a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the precedent set” in Arizona v. United States.