Eric Gay/AP
Migrants wait to be processed by the US Customs and Border Patrol in Eagle Pass, Texas, on October 19, 2023.
CNN  — 

A federal appeals court granted a temporary stay of a lower court’s decision to block the enforcement of a controversial Texas immigration law, paving the way for it to go into effect this week if the Supreme Court doesn’t intervene.

Last week, a federal judge in Austin, Texas, blocked the state government from implementing Senate Bill 4, which would allow state law enforcement authorities to arrest and detain people they suspect of entering the country illegally.

Judge David Alan Ezra wrote in his Thursday decision to halt the law that “If allowed to proceed, SB 4 could open the door to each state passing its own version of immigration laws.”

Texas appealed the ruling, with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott saying, “We will not back down in our fight to protect our state — and our nation — from President Biden’s border crisis.”

Over the weekend, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of Ezra’s decision but put its ruling on hold for seven days, allowing time for the Biden administration to go to the Supreme Court.

The law remains blocked only until March 9 unless the Supreme Court keeps it on hold. It was originally set to go into effect March 5.

The law, signed into law by Abbott in December, immediately raised concerns among immigration advocates of increased racial profiling as well as detentions and attempted deportations by state authorities in Texas, where Latinos represent 40% of the population.

El Paso County, which joined the Department of Justice in its suit against Texas, also claimed that enforcing SB 4 would strain its jail system with thousands of new arrests and applauded Ezra’s ruling last week to block the law.

White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández called the law “harmful and unconstitutional” in a statement after Ezra’s decision last week.

Texas, meanwhile, has argued that SB 4 is not in conflict with federal law and that the state is “entitled to defend itself from an invasion.”

The Supreme Court in 2012 largely struck down a similar measure in Arizona dubbed the “Show me your papers” law. The high court concluded the federal government had the power to block the law but let stand a controversial provision allowing police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the US illegally.

CNN’s Jack Forrest, Andy Rose, Nicole ChavezRosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.