Texas judge blocks law targeting sanctuary cities


A federal district court judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s law targeting sanctuary cities. The law, referred to as SB 4, was due to come into force on Friday, September 1.

The bill, which was signed into law in May, contains provisions to fine municipalities which refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents up to $25,500 a day. It also allows police officials to ask individuals who have been placed in detention about their immigration status and to communicate this information to federal officials. Last but not least, police officials who fail to abide by the new law could be dismissed, fined and face up to 12 months in jail should they be convicted.

Gov. Abbott previously explained that his law would make Texas safer as it would require local law-enforcement agents to keep foreign-born residents in jail or prison until federal immigration agents could take them into custody. So-called sanctuary cities generally release undocumented immigrants without informing ICE first.

However, Bill Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio decided to temporarily block the state immigration law because he felt it was broadly unconstitutional. He also expressed concern at a provision which he said would allow U.S. citizens and lawful aliens to be held illegally even if they had not committed any crime.

“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,” Garcia wrote in his 94-page ruling. Those opposing a crackdown on sanctuary cities keep insisting that protecting criminal illegal immigrants and putting law-abiding U.S. citizens at unnecessary risks create safer communities, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Texas House Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) last week blamed the media for their biased and inaccurate coverage of the law.

“Although this law has been vilified in the media, the facts reveal that SB 4 is a reasonable measure to ensure truly violent criminals are kept off our streets,” he stressed in a statement.

Gov. Abbott and State Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately announced that they would be appealing the ruling.

“Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe,” Abbott pointed out.

Around 1.6 million undocumented immigrants are believed to have settled in the Lone Star State.