Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas Sanctuary Cities Ban

SB 4 would have gone into effect on Friday.

Especial/Notimex/Newscom/ZUMA

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

On Wednesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked most of a controversial Texas law banning sanctuary cities. The law, Senate Bill 4, was set to go into effect on Friday, but key provisions will now be put on hold pending a final decision.

SB 4, which was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, effectively prohibits the existence of sanctuary cities by forcing local police to cooperate with federal immigration officials. SB 4 would also allow local officials to be fined up to $25,500 per day and face jail time if they refused to enforce the law.

Orlando Garcia, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas, ruled that Texas cannot stop local officials and college campuses from adopting or endorsing policies that limit enforcement of immigration laws. He also ruled that the state cannot require local jails to comply with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests to detain people past their release date.

A section of the law that gives police the authority to ask people about their immigration status will still be allowed to go into effect, according to the ruling. Civil liberties groups have warned that the provision, which has been compared to the Arizona’s severe “show me your papers” law, will cause undocumented immigrants to be detained as part of routine interactions like traffic stops. Unlike the largely abandoned Arizona law, SB 4 does not require police officers to investigate people’s immigration status if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally.

Garcia wrote in his decision that there “is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe. There is also ample evidence that localities will suffer adverse economic consequences which, in turn, harm the State of Texas.”

He also wrote that while the state legislature can ignore the “knowledge and experience” of local officials, it cannot “exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution.”

Immigrant advocates celebrated the decision as a major victory. “The court was right to strike down virtually all of this patently unconstitutional law,” Lee Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer who argued the case against SB 4, said in a statement. “Senate Bill 4 would have led to rampant discrimination and made communities less safe.”

But advocates warn that the fight isn’t over yet. Abbott said on Wednesday night that the state will appeal the decision immediately.

 

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate