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Federal Judge Blocks Texas' Ban on 'Sanctuary Cities'

01 September 2017

A federal judge in San Antonio on Wednesday blocked key provisions of the Texas law that imposes a ban on the so-called sanctuary cities two days before it was set to take effect.

"This lawsuit united cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston and El Cenizo, with county officials, major law enforcement leaders, judges, and advocates for the almost five million immigrants who call Texas home".

It would also require that jail officials honor all requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold an inmate for possible deportation, and it forbids governments from "adopting, enforcing, or endorsing" policies that materially limit immigration enforcement.

SB4 gives law enforcement officers the power to ask about a person's immigration status during routine police functions, including traffic stops. Texas cannot-through state law-expand the "limited circumstances" in which local enforcement officials may perform the functions of immigraiton officers.Federal immigration law involves significant complexities, one of which is the determination of removability. And he wrote that cities and towns had provided "overwhelming" and "ample" evidence that cooperating with immigration officials will "erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe" as well as harm the state economically. 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.

But Texas's cities have just won a huge victory over the state (and the feds).

Critics of the law said it would encourage racial profiling and violate the First and Fourth Amendments.

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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.

"Defendants have not identified any provision of law within the [Immigration and Nationality Act], Texas statute, or some other legal authority that authorizes the local officials subject to SB 4 to arrest and detain for civil immigration violations, or to assess probable cause of removability", Garcia said. The cities of El Cenizo, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, and Maverick and El Paso counties filed suit against the state of Texas earlier this summer.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the ruling was good for the city and used the events surrounding Hurricane Harvey as an example of how laws like Senate Bill 4 could hurt a community. The stay granted Wednesday is in effect while the lawsuit proceeds.

"US Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas' law are firmly on our side". The attorney general, Ken Paxton, said in a statement that he would "continue fighting for Senate bill 4" and is "confident SB4 will ultimately be upheld as constitutional and lawful".

For cities that are now fighting both state and federal attempts to push them into collaborating with immigration authorities - not to mention the city in Texas now trying to make sure its residents don't literally drown in their homes - that's a crucial respite.

Federal Judge Blocks Texas' Ban on 'Sanctuary Cities'