Texas ban on 'sanctuary cities' temporarily blocked by judge

By Friday, Senate Bill 4, a state immigration-enforcement law that would outlaw "sanctuary" jurisdictions in Texas, will either go into effect or have been blocked by a federal district judge.

Judge Garcia did allow the bill's provision to allow local law enforcement officers to ask people detained for traffic stops and minor offenses about their immigration status, but he also those powers couldn't be abused as an excuse to detain suspects.

"SB4 sought to force local law enforcement to carry out President Donald Trump's mass deportation agenda, opened the door to the racial profiling of Latinos who make up 40% of our state's population, and [would] allow the removal of democratically elected officials from office just for speaking out against the law".

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.

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. "However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution".

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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Cities and counties are claiming SB 4 violates a host of constitutional rights-the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment, not to mention the Supremacy Clause and Texas' own constitution. The controversial law, SB 4, is believed to be unconstitutional by its opponents.

Conservatives say the crackdown on illegal immigration enforces the rule of law.

But a USA district judge in San Antonio is questioning if it's constitutional. However, Garcia noted in the ruling that enforcing the ban might create a high level of distrust between local law officials and their surrounding communities. The court's decision will not stop Governor Greg Abbott from appealing this decision, it will not stop similar legislation from being enacted in the future, and it will not keep our community safe from other attacks. One of those tasks was to consider a challenge to the new Texas law which would have done away with sanctuary city policies all across the Lone Star State.

Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of plaintiff La Union Del Pueblo Entero, a community union founded by César Chávez, applauded the judge's ruling Wednesday. And if they ask about immigration status, the law doesn't allow them to do anything with that information beyond sending it to ICE - they can't hold onto someone they would otherwise let go while they wait to hear back from ICE about the detainee's immigration status, for example.

He said he would immediately appeal the decision and was confident the law would eventually be upheld. 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. It is with Judge Garcia's court order that we begin to fix the damages brought by this discriminatory law.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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