© Anadolu/Getty ImagesMigrants illegally cross the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, Texas
A federal judge on Thursday blocked a new Texas law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S., a ruling that comes as President Joe Biden and Donald Trump are headed to the state for separate visits at the border.

The ruling is a victory for the Biden administration in its feud with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott over immigration enforcement.

The preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge David Ezra pauses a law that was set to take effect March 5. Texas officials are expected to appeal.

Opponents have called the Texas measure the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since a 2010 Arizona law that opponents rebuked as a 'Show Me Your Papers' bill. The U.S. Supreme Court partially struck down the Arizona law, but some Texas Republican leaders want that ruling to get a second look.

The lawsuit is among several legal battles between Texas and President Biden´s administration over how far the state can go to try to prevent migrants from crossing the border.

The measure would allow state law enforcement officers to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally. Once in custody, they could agree to a Texas judge´s order to leave the country or face a misdemeanor charge for entering the U.S. illegally. Migrants who don´t leave after being ordered to do so could be arrested again and charged with a more serious felony.

At a Feb. 15 hearing, Ezra expressed skepticism as the state pleaded its case for what is known as Senate Bill 4. He also said he was somewhat sympathetic to the concerns expressed by Abbott and other state officials about the large number of illegal crossings.

Ezra, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, said he feared the United States could become a confederation of states enforcing their own immigration laws. 'That is the same thing the Civil War said you can´t do,' Ezra told the attorneys.
© Getty ImagesUS President Joe Biden leaves the WH for Brownsville, Texas
Civil rights groups, who also sued the state, have argued the law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling.

Republicans who back the law have said it would not target immigrants already living in the U.S. because of the two-year statute of limitations on the illegal entry charge and would be enforced only along the state´s border with Mexico.

Tensions have remained high between Texas and the Biden administration this year over who can patrol the border and how. Other GOP governors have expressed support for Abbott, who has said the federal government is not doing enough to enforce immigration laws.

Among other things, Texas placed a floating barrier in the Rio Grande, put razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border and stopped Border Patrol agents from accessing a riverfront park in Eagle Pass that they previously used to process migrants.
© APFormer US President Donald Trump will be in Eagle Pass, Texas on the same day Biden is in Brownsville, Texas
The ruling comes as President Biden is traveling to Brownsville, Texas, on the same day Donald Trump will be in Eagle Pass, Texas. The cities are about 300 miles apart and the two men are not expected to interact.

But Eagle Pass remains a migration hot spot while crossings in Brownsville have dropped dramatically. It once saw 10,000 a day.

White House officials have defended the president, saying its House Republicans engaged in a 'political stunt.'

While in Brownsville, Biden will 'meet with U.S. Border Patrol agents, law enforcement, frontline personnel, and local leaders to discuss the urgent need to pass the Senate bipartisan border security agreement,' a White House official said.

Biden is considering executive orders that would move to shut down the border to new arrivals if more than an average of 5,000 migrants per day tried to cross unlawfully in the course of a week, or more than 8,500 tried to cross in a day.

The president is joined on his trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, local elected officials, as well as personnel from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Biden will be briefed on border security operations and then he will make public remarks on the need for House Republicans to pass a bipartisan border package already approved by the Senate. Conservatives argue the legislation is not strong enough to combat illegal immigration.
The bill included over $20 billion for border security that would add new Customs and Border Patrol agents, add more asylum officers to increase that process time, and add more immigration judges.
Democrats accuse the GOP of election year politics. Trump, who is Biden's likely rival in the 2024 presidential election, has come out against the legislation.

The former president, while he is in Eagle Pass, will blast Biden on the record high number of illegal crossings and the murder of Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student. An illegal immigrant was arrested and charged with the crime.

His campaign has accused Biden of piggy-backing onto Trump's decision to visit the border, which the White House denies.

In Brownsville, border crossings have dropped dramatically in the past months, after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had miles of the wire fencing installed as part of Operation Lone Star, which he signed into law in December.

Internal CBP data for all border patrol stations in February - obtained by Fox News - shows that the Brownsville area had about 462 apprehensions, which averages out to about 17 per day.

That makes Brownsville, Texas, the 29th busiest border patrol station for the month. The number one station was Three Points in Tucson, Arizona, sector, which has recorded more than 13,900 apprehensions in February.

Brownsville could give Biden a platform to argue illegal crossings have dropped dramatically given it was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings for nine years.

But Republicans have called it something else: a 'photo-op.'

Speaker Mike Johnson accused Biden of going merely for the optics:
"Brownsville is the 29th ranked hotspot. Why would he go to the 29th? Because he doesn't really want to see the reality."
At a House Republican leadership news conference, many of the leaders repeatedly accused Biden of a 'photo op.'

Majority Leader Steve Scalise said:
'President Biden goes down to the border today for a photo op. He has the authority today to fix this problem that he created.'
The White House has said it is House Republicans who are turning the border into a 'political stunt.'

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pushed back against GOP criticism of Biden's trip, noting it was House Republicans who refused to bring up a vote on a bipartisan border security bill after Trump came out against it:
'Oh, it's very different. What House Republicans have done is nothing, absolutely nothing. If anything, they consistently get in the way.

'They are turning this into a political stunt by listening to Donald Trump and saying that they need to kill it. This is what they've been doing and making it political where the President got his team now directed his team to work with senators, both Republicans and Democrats to get a bill done.'