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Federal Judge Blocks Texas Anti-Sanctuary Law


A federal judge on Wednesday night temporarily blocked most of a Texas immigration law that bans sanctuary jurisdictions throughout the state.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio issued a temporary injunction against Senate Bill 4, which was set to go into effect Friday, reports Associated Press.

SB4 is widely regarded as the toughest statewide anti-sanctuary city law in the country. The bill allows police officers to inquire about the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and requires local law enforcement agencies to honor detention requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It also allows Texas to remove police chiefs and sheriffs from office if they refuse to comply with the law.

Supporters including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Attorney General Ken Paxton say SB4 is a constitutionally sound measure that will take dangerous criminals off the street.

In the weeks after Abbott signed SB4 in May, several of the state’s largest cities joined a federal lawsuit that civil rights groups and a small border town filed against the law. Opponents call SB4 a “show me your papers” law that will promote unconstitutional racial profiling.

As the toughest state-level crackdown on illegal immigration, SB4 is likely to serve as a test case for how far states can go in compelling local governments to enforce immigration law.

Garcia’s injunction prevents most of the law from being enforced while the case works its way through the federal courts. The provision authorizing police inquires of immigration status can go forward, Garcia ruled, because it can be applied in a way that does not violate the Constitution.

In response to the decision, Paxton said he was confident SB4 will ultimately be upheld in federal court.

“Senate Bill 4 was passed by the Texas Legislature to set a statewide policy of cooperation with federal immigration authorities enforcing our nation’s immigration laws,” he said in a statement. “Texas has the sovereign authority and responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens.”

Paxton has asked for a change of venue from San Antonio to Austin and for the multiple challenges to SB4 to be consolidated into a single case.

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