Federal judge blocks key parts of Texas sanctuary cities bill
- Author: Terrell Bush Sep 01, 2017,
Sep 01, 2017, 1:50
Just two days before Senate Bill 4, more commonly known as the "sanctuary cities ban", was set to be enforced, a federal judge in San Antonio temporarily blocked the law from being enacted while the lawsuit between several cities and organizations against the state will continue to play out.
The bill also allows police officers to question anybody they detain, forces local law enforcement to cooperate with detainer requests from federal immigration officials and threatens fines, imprisonment and removal from office on any state, county or city official who interferes with the enforcement of the state law.
The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, which is representing several plaintiffs in the case, said that although police officers can still ask about immigration status, the questioned individual has the right not to answer and police cannot detain a person exclusively on the suspicion that they are undocumented. Most notably, Garcia did not block the provision of SB 4 that prevents law enforcement from asking about immigration status, although he stressed that law enforcement officials are not allowed to detain people exclusively due to their immigration status.
"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. This law was never about good public policy-it was passed to criminalize almost half of Texas, sweep immigrants into a deportation dragnet, and punish local law enforcement for not volunteering to do the job of federal enforcement agents. The requirement that local officials hold and transfer detainees to federal immigration officials could violate the Fourth Amendment protection against detention without probable cause, he said. But when Arizona passed its controversial law SB 1070, he said the law wasn't right for Texas. A second part of the bill also included in the injunction was, "a pattern or practice that "materially limits" the enforcement of immigration laws".
But a USA district judge in San Antonio is questioning if it's constitutional.
But chiefs and others can still issue guidance that states immigration inquiries could undermine the legitimacy of an otherwise lawful stop, and erode trust within the community.
Abbott said the judge's decision has only made "communities less safe".
Plaintiffs in the case included five of Texas' six biggest cities - Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso - as well as the tiny border outpost of El Cenizo. But in a lengthy ruling released Wednesday night Garcia determined the cities and counties within the state who filed suit to stop the law have a good chance of winning on some of the claims. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas' law are firmly on our side. "This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas' law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld".
SB 4 overruled the policies cities put in place. A federal judge later halted that order, saying it was overly broad.