The Courts Temporarily Stop Texas From Arresting and Deporting Migrants | Crooked Media
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March 20, 2024
What A Day
The Courts Temporarily Stop Texas From Arresting and Deporting Migrants

In This Episode

  • Texas’ draconian immigration law SB4 is back on hold after a ruling late Tuesday night by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. SB4 would allow state law enforcement officials to arrest and detain anyone they suspect of crossing the border illegally. It also would allow judges to issue orders to deport people to Mexico. The Fifth Circuit’s decision followed an earlier decision by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to let the law go into effect. Texas Tribune immigration reporter Uriel García explained the legal whiplash and what it means for migrants in the state.
  • The Biden administration on Wednesday finalized the country’s strictest-ever limits on emissions for passenger cars and light trucks in an effort to rev up the nation’s transition towards electric vehicles. It’s definitely a big deal, but it is a bit more modest than what was proposed last year. Nevertheless, the health of the planet will improve with these changes as will our own.
  • And in headlines: The Federal Reserve kept interest rates flat on Wednesday amid continued concerns over inflation, former President Donald Trump said he’d be open to endorsing a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and a fourth Mississippi police officer was sentenced to 40 years in prison in a case involving the horrific torture of two Black men.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, March 21st. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The pod that says vive le safer sex. Organizers of the upcoming Paris Olympics said recently they’ll provide 300,000 condoms to athletes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, if that sounds like a lot of condoms to you, just know that it is 150,000 less than they had at the Rio Games in 2016. Why? 


Juanita Tolliver: I doubt they have fewer athletes competing. So I don’t know. [music break] 


Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, how we got to Biden’s ambitious goals on emissions and electric vehicles. Plus, the stakes are even more clear this November. Trump suggested that he would support a national abortion ban. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, there’s been a lot of legal whiplash in Texas this week regarding a draconian and racist immigration law. SB four would allow state law enforcement officials to arrest and detain anyone they suspect of crossing the border illegally. It would also give judges the power to order people deported to Mexico. The latest is that as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, SB four is back on hold for now after a late night ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the legal drama is sowing a lot of confusion in the state.


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So Republican Governor Greg Abbott originally signed SB four into law back in December, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that for a few brief hours, the Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect. So can you explain a little bit of what happened here? 


Juanita Tolliver: On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority allowed Texas to begin enforcing SB four, at least temporarily. The court didn’t weigh in on the constitutionality of SB four it just allowed it to go into effect while also kicking the case back down to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Pretty quickly, the Mexican government issued a statement saying it would not accept migrants deported from Texas. Then, a few hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, the Fifth Circuit put SB four back on hold in a very late night ruling. Not even a month ago, the Fifth Circuit wanted to let the law go into effect while the legal challenges played out. And I feel like this entire exercise is just a vivid experience in how quickly justices and judges can turn on their heels and just change their minds. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, back and forth and back and forth. I mean, it affected our show yesterday. We’ll get into that in just a second. But after all of this happened, the Fifth Circuit actually held a hearing yesterday over whether to let SB four go back into effect. So tell us what we know about that hearing so far. 


Juanita Tolliver: So a panel of three judges on the Fifth Circuit heard the case Wednesday. As of our recording at 9:30 eastern Wednesday, we’re still waiting for their decision. And the Supreme Court also made clear on Tuesday that its decision wasn’t final either. To better understand the legal back and forth and what it means for migrants in Texas. I spoke with Uriel Garcia, an El Paso, Texas based immigration reporter for the Texas Tribune. I actually spoke to him on Tuesday as well about the Supreme Court’s ruling, but we weren’t able to air our conversation because Tuesday’s late night decision changed everything that we recorded earlier in the day, I started our latest conversation by asking him what happened during Wednesday’s hearing at the Fifth Circuit. 


Uriel Garcia: Basically, there seems to be disagreements, obviously, between Texas and the Department of Justice lawyers. But even among the judges, they seemed to be split among what side they’re going to stand on. Ultimately, there was a telling moment in which one of the judges asked a very specific question to the Texas lawyer, asking how SB four would be applied to certain people who are undocumented in Texas. And the lawyer responded, that he did not know. And not that the lawyer was not prepared. But I think it’s more telling about how the law was crafted. It just makes it really hard to defend. When previous federal court rulings have said immigration falls under the federal government’s purview. 


Juanita Tolliver: And this is the same court that previously said that it wanted to allow SB four to go into effect. Was there any indication of why, after the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Texas the green light to start enforcing it, this panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit decided to reverse itself and again put SB four on hold. 


Uriel Garcia: When they issued their order that there were essentially blocking SB four again, they did not indicate why they were reversing itself. The only indication we have is that two justices on the Supreme Court told the appeals court that it made a procedural error when it originally let SB four go into effect. And so when the Fifth Circuit came out with its ruling late Tuesday night, they simply said, we’re hearing the case and we’re reversing our original ruling. 


Juanita Tolliver: How have migrants and immigration activists been responding to this legal whiplash? 


Uriel Garcia: They’re confused. It’s a lot of confusion. And even among law enforcement agencies in Texas, some of them came out to say that they’re not going to enforce it. Some of them said that they are going to enforce it. And that was a very short lived uh stance because it was in effect for about eight hours. And as far as we know right now, no one was arrested under this law. And so, again, it was just a lot of confusion. People thought it was in effect. And people woke up Wednesday morning to realize it’s been blocked again. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, if SB four does ultimately go into effect, how will it even be enforced? Have law enforcement officials and judges been trained to enforce immigration law? 


Uriel Garcia: As far as we know, no, there hasn’t been any formal training, at least publicly. Even in the court hearing, there was talk about how this law would be implemented, because one of the provisions in the law requires that after a migrant has been arrested and has been proven that they entered Texas illegally through Mexico, that a judge would order essentially what would be their deportation. And Mexico, he came out and said, we are not going to accept anyone deported under SB four, which would definitely complicate the law, because that is one of the big provisions in the law was to be able to remove someone from Texas back to Mexico, and if Mexico does not accept them, then that is basically cutting a big part of this law. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, that was a big declaration from the Mexican government. How have Texas officials or Governor Greg Abbott responded to that statement? 


Uriel Garcia: They haven’t, as far as we know, for those eight hours that the law was into effect, Abbott and uh the attorney general, Ken Paxton, celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling. But again, that was short lived. So for now, we haven’t seen any public responses from state officials about this. 


Juanita Tolliver: So what happens next with SB four? 


Uriel Garcia: It’s important to note that even though this has gone through three different federal courts, starting at the district Court, the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court, none of the courts have ruled whether the law is constitutional. So for now, what’s next is there’s another court hearing in the Fifth Circuit in which they are going to argue the merits of the law. But in the meantime, we are are anxiously waiting for the Fifth Circuit to rule based on the hearing that happened Wednesday morning. 


Juanita Tolliver: And we know the composition of this panel of judges is a Bush appointed judge, a Trump appointed judge and a Biden appointed judge. Were there any signals during the oral arguments on Wednesday that hinted at which way they might rule here? 


Uriel Garcia: Yeah. Um. The Bush appointed judge seemed very skeptical of the state’s arguments that the law can go into effect. The Trump appointed judge seemed a bit more sympathetic. And I think a little factoid here about the Trump appointed judge, he used to be the general counsel for governor, Greg Abbott. And so his line of questioning was challenging the DOJ’s lawyer a little more aggressively than he was the other lawyers and the Biden appointed judge, remained quiet during the hearing. So for now, as an appellate lawyer based in Houston told me, it seems that uh it’s tied for now. And the Biden appointed judge could be a tie breaker. 


Juanita Tolliver: That was my conversation with Uriel Garcia. He’s an immigration reporter for the Texas Tribune, based in El Paso. We’ll put a link to his coverage in our show notes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Thank you so much for sharing that conversation with us, Juanita, and doing a take two on it. 


Juanita Tolliver: You know. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We appreciate it. 


Juanita Tolliver: We provide for the listeners. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, absolutely. Now, switching gears to another big story. Yesterday, the Biden administration finalized the country’s strictest ever limits on emissions for passenger cars and light trucks in an effort to rev up the nation’s transition towards electric vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency rule will require car manufacturers to increase their sales of electric vehicles, while cutting carbon emissions from their gasoline powered models. Take a listen to EPA Administrator Michael Regan making the announcement during a news conference yesterday. 


[clip of EPA Administrator Michael Regan] These technology standards for model years 2027 through 2032 will avoid more than seven billion tons of carbon pollution. That’s four times the total carbon pollution from the entire transportation in the year 2021. 


Juanita Tolliver: Wow. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So huge impacts as Regan noted. Transportation is currently the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. And according to the EPA, these new standards could lead to a nearly 50% reduction in projected emission levels for passenger cars alone. 


Juanita Tolliver: This will be the Biden administration’s farthest reaching climate regulation yet, but it’s not exactly the same as the version of this rule they previously proposed. Tell us more about the differences and why that is. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, so definitely a big deal, as we’ve been noting, but it is a bit more modest than what was originally proposed last year. So under the updated rule, automakers will get some more time to boost their EV sales rather than having to dramatically do that in the next few years, they’ll have until 2030 to really get started. The previous proposal would have led to 67% of all new passenger vehicles and light truck sales being electric by 2032. But this new one aims for 56%, so a slight reduction there. This adjustment reflects a few things. First, a concession to labor unions, specifically in the auto industry during a very big election year. Biden has campaigned both on fighting climate change and supporting labor unions, so he’s trying to balance those priorities here. Auto unions have been very concerned about a rapid shift towards EVs and how that will affect their industry. Those concerns were actually a big part of their strikes last year, if you remember. And they’re not the only ones with concerns. The growth of EV sales has actually slowed a bit in the U.S. recently. We’ll link to some more details on that in our show notes if you want to look into it. And there have also been issues recently with public charging stations and availability. Despite the fact that lawmakers have already approved billions of dollars of funding for building up a national infrastructure for charging stations. That robust network doesn’t exist yet, and the lack of charging stations is often cited by people as a reason that they choose not to purchase an electric car. I mean, if you have a house, you can install a charger, use it when you please. Easy. But if you live in an apartment, if you rent, etc., you are relying on the availability of public chargers. And if you can’t find one that’s readily available nearby benefits like getting a tax credit for buying an EV or bringing down emissions don’t quite matter to you as much. You still need to get to work and need to be able to use your car tomorrow. 


Juanita Tolliver: Not to mention the people like me who love road trips with my pups. Like if I can’t cross at least 3 or 4 states in the car, I’m not really going to get it so. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. On this topic, there have been a few updates this week about improving that infrastructure though. Tell us what’s going on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Gladly. So earlier this week, the oil and gas company Shell announced that it will close 1000 of its gas stations over the next two years in order to shift their focus to expanding electric vehicle charging for the public. In San Francisco, city officials announced on Tuesday that they are trying to install thousands of curbside charging stations all across the city to help support EV adoption. They’re hoping to have a pilot program for that in place by next year, so hopefully making it a little easier for residents and those apartment dwellers and renters to charge their cars and be able to drive. And in Wisconsin, where this is perhaps a little less expected than S.F., Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed a pair of bills into law yesterday that allow for the development of a network of charging stations all along the state’s highways and interstates via federal funding. So we’re not quite there yet, but there’s definitely some progress being made, some groundwork being laid. We love to see it. 


Juanita Tolliver: And there are other benefits to Americans as the country shifts towards more electric vehicles as well. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So a study from the Keck School of Medicine at USC last year linked the adoption of EVs with reduction in respiratory issues, alongside reduction in air pollution. They found that for every additional 20 electric vehicles per 1000 people in a specific ZIP code, there was a 3.2% drop in the rate of asthma related E.R. visits. So while the health of the planet will improve with these changes, so will our own health and the health of our loved ones. And that is a win win all around. So definitely something we will continue to follow. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Juanita Tolliver: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Juanita Tolliver: The Federal Reserve kept interest rates the same on Wednesday, maintaining its current rate of about 5.5%. In a statement released yesterday, the central bank said that overall, things with the economy look good. Unemployment is down and jobs are up. But officials said that interest rates won’t come down until they’re confident that inflation is going down. According to last week’s consumer price index, inflation’s at about 3.2%. The fed wants it to fall to 2%. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he’d be open to endorsing a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Trump rambled about the idea on a New York conservative talk show called Sid and Friends in the morning on W-A-B-C. Take a listen to a clip. 


[clip of Donald Trump] The number of weeks now people are agreeing on 15. And I’m thinking in terms of that. And it’ll come out to something that’s very reasonable. But people are really even hardliners are agreeing. Seems to be 15 weeks. 


Juanita Tolliver: There is nothing reasonable about a national abortion ban or a 15 week ban. Let’s just be clear. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So Trump did emphasize that he would support exceptions in the cases of rape and incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger because, quote, “you also have to win elections.” 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, goodness. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Which, you know, is a real Trump quote, because you can imagine him saying it just as callous, just as flippant, just as everything we know that man to be. The Biden-Harris campaign sent out a press release saying that Trump wants to make an abortion ban a hallmark of his campaign. They also included a statement from Amanda Zurawski, a woman in Texas who almost lost her life in 2022 because of the state’s abortion ban. She said, quote, “Trump isn’t signaling. He isn’t suggesting, he isn’t leaning towards anything. He is actively planning to ban abortion nationwide if he is elected. Inflicting the same cruelty and chaos I’ve experienced on the entire country.” 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, this is the same guy that literally is taking full credit for overturning Roe by himself. So.


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely, Amanda said it all. If you want to learn more about how you can protect abortion access, head to 


Juanita Tolliver: The judge in Georgia’s election interference case against Donald Trump ruled yesterday that the former president can appeal the ruling that kept Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on the case. You’ll remember that last week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee heard arguments about the drama with Willis’s relationship with Nathan Wade, one of her prosecutors. Trump’s lawyers argued that the relationship created a conflict of interest in the case. McAfee ruled on Friday that the relationship did not warrant Willis’s removal. But in an effort to get the case thrown out altogether, Trump and his co-defendants filed a motion to appeal McAfee’s decision on Monday. And yesterday, McAfee granted their wish, saying that his decision, quote, “is of such importance to the case that immediate review should be had.” Trump and his eight co-defendants now have until the 30th to appeal the decision. If the appellate court doesn’t take the case, the former president could ask Georgia’s Supreme Court to weigh in. But in the meantime, Willis’s case against the former president will not be delayed. And that is the good news. 


Priyanka Aribindi: A fourth Mississippi police officer was sentenced to 40 years in prison yesterday in a case involving the horrific torture of two Black men in January 2023. A judge sentenced Christian Dedmon to 40 years in prison, the harshest sentence so far. Three other officers were sentenced this week between 17 and 20 years, and the remaining two will be sentenced today. All of them were part of the Goon Squad, a self-named group of white law enforcement officials willing to use excessive force. Last year, the officer from that group pleaded guilty to the abuse of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker. Prompted by a tip from a neighbor, the officers broke into the home where Jenkins and Parker were staying, even though they didn’t have a warrant. They proceeded to physically and sexually abuse them, even shooting Jenkins through his mouth before covering up much of the evidence of their abuse. According to an investigation by The New York Times, the Goon Squad has a documented history of torture and the use of excessive force on other civilians as well. 


Juanita Tolliver: Lawmakers in at least two U.S. states are citing a new policy in England to justify attacks on gender affirming care for trans youth. About a year ago, the National Health Service in England approved a rule that bans trans kids from receiving puberty blockers as, quote, “routine care,” citing concerns about the treatment’s long term effects. The policy goes into effect on April 1st. Trans kids who are already on puberty blockers through the service won’t be forced to stop under the new rule, but the move will significantly limit access to this lifesaving care for kids who want to start their medical transition. U.S. Republicans are taking notes, for example in Kansas GOP lawmakers are hoping to pass a gender affirming care ban for trans youth as soon as this week. Republican State Senator Beverly Gossage cited England’s new policy when briefing her colleagues on the bill last week. And over in Georgia, Republican State Senator Ben Watson named England’s policy during a speech he gave in support of a similar measure last week. I feel like, let’s not take any pages from England’s playbook, period. All of these targeted attacks and laws that will impact trans people and trans youth, access to basic care will lead to more harm, harm that they should not be facing. And this is a massive problem. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s bad, it’s bad. And speaking of England, the mystery of the Princess of Wales keeps getting stranger. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh my. 


Priyanka Aribindi: For those of us invested in her whereabouts. Ding ding ding. It’s me. [laugh] The hospital that is known for treating members of the British royal family, the London Clinic, has reportedly launched an investigation into a potential breach of their privacy law. It comes after reports that medical staff were caught trying to access Kate Middleton’s medical records from her abdominal surgery earlier this year. Big no no. There are several rules that um govern the health care profession, but this is pretty high up there as one of the things you’re not allowed to do. This can be considered a criminal offense in the UK, according to Time. Earlier this week, TMZ obtained a video that appeared to capture Middleton and her husband Prince William out and about shopping. Appeared, being a pretty key word there for us conspiracy theorists. But still, there is no clear indication of when we might see Middleton in public again. I will not settle until I see a picture of her with the newspaper, with today’s date on it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay hostage video. Yes. Doing a dive down the dark sides of the internet is fine. Going through somebodys medical records though? 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, no. 


Juanita Tolliver: No, let’s not break the law for this people, like, there are so many other ways to go about this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You’re going to get charged for something that the Twitter and TikTok detectives are going to figure out themselves. Please. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Please. And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Let the Olympians know that we’re also cool with short term sexual relationships. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just going to because Trump is open to a federal abortion ban like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[spoken together] And Olympians, save the sex for after your event. 


Juanita Tolliver: Ok. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Key. 


Juanita Tolliver: All the energy needs to go into your Olympic performance first. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I agree with you, but the counter point is that like maybe it’s just a brain break. 


Juanita Tolliver: What did the trainer Rocky say? It’s bad for the legs. We can leave it there. [laughing] [music break] What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Leo Duran. Our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.