Federal judge blocks 'sanctuary cities' bill SB4

Friday, 01 Sep, 2017

SB 4, as signed into law, would allow local law enforcement to inquire about immigration status when detaining or arresting people, and would punish law enforcement officials for implementing policies to prevent their officers from doing so.

Thousands of undocumented immigrants in Texas can breathe easier today after a local law enforcement to obey requests from immigration officers to hold illegal immigrants for deportation was struck out by a federal judge.

The injunction also prevents the state from fining or removing law enforcement and public officials for not following SB 4 mandates, and it allows law enforcement to give Immigration and Customs Enforcement information about undocumented immigrants only if they want to.

"There is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe", he wrote.

"This week's crisis with Hurricane Harvey is just the most recent example why people need to feel safe approaching our local police and support groups, no matter what", Steve Adler, mayor of Texas' state capital Austin, said in a statement.

Garcia said the state law's provision went beyond the requirements of federal law and "upset the delicate balance between federal enforcement and local cooperation and violate the United States Constitution".

"I commend Judge Orlando Garcia's decision to issue a preliminary injunction preventing this discriminatory bill from coming into effect on September 1". But activists and officials across the state responded swiftly- all of the state's major cities, including Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, sued Texas, as did numerous organizations. "We're confident SB 4 will ultimately be upheld as constitutional and lawful".

There is an attitude among some who want more enforcement of immigration laws that a person in the country illegally has no rights and can be treated as a convicted criminal.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia halted penalties for officials who endorse policies in violation of Senate Bill 4, saying it likely violates the First Amendment.

People protest against a new sanctuary cities bill outside the federal courthouse in San Antonio. The fundamental basis of this argument from the beginning has been that it's the federal government which has the power to make and enforce immigration law so state and municipal governments can't stand in the way of that.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) vowed to appeal. Saenz added that according to the judge's ruling, a lawful stop can not be prolonged just to make an immigration inquiry, which is part of what made the Arizona statute ineffective.

The U.S. Justice Department sided with Texas in defending the law in federal court. Texas is sure to appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals - a fairly conservative circuit court that may overturn some of Wednesday's ruling. "We further note - and Judge Garcia made clear - that the rights and the ability of police to act on any information received extends only to turning that information over to federal immigration authorities".

SB 4 overruled the policies cities put in place.