Published: Fri, September 01, 2017
Technology | By Timothy Carter

Federal judge blocks Texas law penalizing sanctuary cities

Federal judge blocks Texas law penalizing sanctuary cities

A US district judge ruled late Wednesday night that a controversial anti-immigrant bill in Texas could not take effect on Friday, giving relief to millions of residents in a state still reeling from the ramifications of a devastating hurricane. The law prevents cities and counties from adopting policies that limit immigration enforcement and permit police officers to interrogate the immigration status of anyone they plan to detain or arrest.

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.

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.

U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia temporarily blocked most of the law from going into effect until there is a trial on its constitutionality. "There is also ample evidence that localities will suffer adverse economic consequences".

In order to obtain an injunction to the law, the local governments and organizations who challenged it were required to prove that they were harmed by it.

At one point, federal officials were publishing a list of crimes reportedly committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities, but stopped after multiple jurisdictions began questioning the accuracy of the reports. 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.

"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.

The law, known as SB4, was "one of the most extreme anti-immigrant and anti-Latino pieces of legislation in the country", Jolt, an Hispanic political activism group, said in a statement hailing the judge's ruling.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he will appeal the judge's decision.

The cities challenging this ban (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso) argued it would encourage racial profiling from police, which is what Arpaio got in legal trouble for. The San Antonio judge halted a central piece of the law, the threat of punishment for officials who don't hand over immigrants the federal government requests. Its backers describe it as a measure to keep unsafe criminals off the streets and ensure consistent and efficient co-operation between local and federal law enforcement. SB4 was seen by many as a response to Hernandez and officials like her - something made evident by the governor's response to Wednesday's ruling.

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.

SB 4 overruled the policies cities put in place.

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