News Worms
News Worms


Federal judge temporarily blocks Texas ban on sanctuary cities

Federal judge temporarily blocks Texas ban on sanctuary cities

The Trump administration has targeted "sanctuary cities" throughout the USA while Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to pull federal money from jurisdictions that hinder communication between local police and immigration authorities and has praised Texas' law. State and local government officials, including campus police, who violate the law would be subject to Class A misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of $25,000 a day, and they could also be removed from office.

The decision Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia delivers a temporary blow to the state's campaign - backed by the Trump administration - to compel localities to detain immigrants so federal agents can take them into custody.

Garcia said in the ruling that there is "overwhelming evidence" to support that view, in addition to ample evidence that parts of the state would suffer adverse economic consequences if the law were to take effect.

On the issue of local officials endorsing policies that limit enforcement of immigration laws, Garcia was clearer, saying the provision of the law could not go into effect. The plaintiffs who sued to stop the law, meanwhile, including the governments of Texas' major cities and immigrant-rights advocacy groups, are celebrating the ruling as a near-complete victory.

After offering my personal testimony about the many ways in which Senate Bill 4 violates basic constitutional rights and listening to the leaders of several law enforcement agencies emphasize how this bill puts public safety at risk, I'm pleased to see today's judgement.

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. It was signed into law in May despite vocal opposition from some of Texas' largest cities, including Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

The 94-page order handed down in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, blocks certain sections of Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4). 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.

Liberal-run Texas municipalities like Dallas, Travis County (home to Austin), and the tiny border town of El Cenizo have joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens to fight the SB4, filing a suit that resulted in Wednesday's order. Courts already have blocked similar laws in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. 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. "This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas' law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld".

This ruling is also the latest in a string that found Texas laws to be discriminatory against people of color. ILRC staff has held legal trainings with attorneys and advocates to help them defend immigrants who may be impacted by SB 4 and related policies. Republican Governor Gregg Abbott says the state will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court if necessary.

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