Judge Blocks Provisions in Texas Law Punishing 'Sanctuary Cities'

Texas's anti-sanctuary cities legislation will not go into effect on Friday, Sept. 1, as scheduled following a federal judge's decision to put the law on hold. 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. It allows jail officials to be charged with a misdemeanor if they knowingly refuse to hand over immigrants that the federal government asks for, and it allows police to question people's immigration status when they are arrested or detained, like at a traffic stop.

"The Fourth Amendment does not permit SB 4 to authorize, and SB 4 does not require local entities to allow, officers to prolong the seizure in order to further investigate the individual's immigration status or to hold them for federal authorities", Garcia said.

Acting less than 30 hours before the law was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia said it's up to the federal government, not the state, to decide what sorts of cooperation localities must provide in the context of immigration.

Bracing for the law, passed by the GOP-dominated Texas Legislature during the regular session despite opposition from hundreds, immigrant communities in Austin and elsewhere have already experienced the risky effects of the new rules, including failing to report crime and domestic abuse due to fear of deportation.

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But Texas's cities have just won a huge victory over the state (and the feds). They said the law could lead to racial profiling, make immigrants afraid to report crime and ignite a backlash that could devastate the state economically.

"While we're glad a judge struck down Abbott's racist Senate Bill 4, we must now direct our efforts to fighting back against similarly racist attacks on DACA", said Karen Muñoz, activist and co-founder of Mano Amiga. A second part of the bill also included in the injunction was, "a pattern or practice that "materially limits" the enforcement of immigration laws".

Commentary: A federal district judge in San Antonio ruled to enjoin the majority of the anti-immigrant and discriminatory law, SB4, that targets communities of color across the state.

The law, Garcia stated, would have required local law enforcement to make determinations of probable cause exclusively on someone's immigration status, something that local departments are neither trained, nor have authority, to do.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the decision made "Texas' communities less safe".

Photo People protested in June outside the federal courthouse in San Antonio against a Texas measure banning so-called sanctuary cities. The anti-sanctuary city bills are supported by the Trump administration and the Department of Justice.

"US Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas' law are firmly on our side".

The new Texas law uses the non-medical term "dismemberment abortion" to describe a procedure in which forceps and other instruments are used to remove the fetus from the womb.

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Lawyers were still digesting the 94-page ruling Wednesday night and said they weren't sure exactly how it would affect San Antonio's policy. "Instead of focusing on their safety, hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families in Houston's rising flood waters anxious about facing deportation", Olivares said in a statement.

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