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Texas Immigration Law Put on Hold by Federal Judge
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Gov. Greg Abbott

Summary: A Texas law allowing for the police to ask the immigration status in legal detentions or arrests was largely placed on hold with only a few portions being allowed to be implemented by a federal judge.

A federal judge in San Antonio has temporarily blocked Texas from imposing a “sanctuary cities” law that was set to go into effect Friday. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia halted Senate Bill 4 from being implemented throughout the state of Texas.


The law in question would allow local law enforcement to ask anyone legally detained or arrested about their immigration status. An example would be during a routine traffic stop, a police officer can ask the individual what their immigration status is.

Five Texas cities including Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, several counties, and sheriffs with the help of the ACLU challenged the constitutionality of the law. Garcia granted the preliminary injunction from the questions the groups brought up. He wrote in a 94-page order that “overwhelming evidence” supports the fear that the law “will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe.” Garcia also believes “localities will suffer adverse economic consequences which, in turn, will harm the state of Texas.”

Texas, a predominately Republican state, passed the bill easily. Garcia only placed a hold on parts of the law but suggests that the parts of the law that can go forward will not likely survive additional legal challenges.

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The law would fine law enforcement agencies that did not honor federal requests to detain people jailed for offenses not related to immigration. The law would also have made it possible to remove police chiefs, sheriffs, and constables from office and even place criminal charges against them for failing to comply with federal requests.

Those opposing the law claimed it was vague and would discourage immigrant communities from trusting and working with the police on public safety matters. The Texas attorney general’s office contends that the law is less vicious than Arizona’s “Show My Your Papers” measure in 2010 that was partially knocked out by the U.S. Supreme Court. The attorney general has already taken steps and filed an appeal in accordance with Gov. Greg Abbott’ vow that they will appeal. Attorney General Ken Paxton has also asked to have the lawsuits moved to Austin since “state business is conducted in Austin. The plaintiffs have no reason to litigate this case in San Antonio.”

Abbott added, “U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side. This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas’ law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”

Abbott targeted Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez for implementing a sanctuary city policy. He said, “Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe. Because of this ruling, gang members and dangerous criminals, like those who have been released by the Travis County Sheriff, will be set free to prey upon our communities.”

The parts of the law that were not blocked includes a portion that lets police officers ask about immigration status during a legal detention. Garcia’s block only limits that actions the officer can take upon learning their immigration status to letting them report it to federal authorities. Garcia wrote in a footnote, “In sum, SB 4 gives local officers discretion to inquire and share information but it does not provide them with discretion to act upon the information that they may obtain.”

Do you think states should be able to govern themselves? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about sanctuary cities, read these articles:




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