Federal judge in Texas blocks state ban on 'sanctuary' cities

A federal judge in San Antonio,Texas, has temporarily blocked the implementation of a new Texas law aimed at banning so-called sanctuary cities.
By Ed Mason | Sep 04, 2017
A federal judge in San Antonio,Texas, has temporarily blocked the implementation of a new Texas law aimed at banning so-called sanctuary cities.

The new law, known as Senate Bill 4, or SB 4, would have required cooperation by local sheriffs with federal authorities in apprehending possible illegal immigrants with threatened jail time for sheriffs failing to cooperate and would have let police officers question people during routine stops about whether they are in the U.S. illegally.

The ruling, handed down late Wednesday, came as a relief to many victims of Tropical Storm Harvey as authorities in Houston tried to reassure residents that shelters and rescuers would not ask about immigration status.

Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, led the challenge to the law, along with the cities of Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, which all have fast-growing Hispanic populations, according to the Associated Press.

In his 94-page decision, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote that enforcing SB 4 could violate federally guaranteed constitutional rights as well as make people fearful of reporting crimes or seeking medical care.

The judge pointed out that only eight people spoke in favor of SB 4 during public legislative hearings while 1,600 testified against it. He also wrote that the record contained "overwhelming evidence by local officials, including law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe."

Texas Governor Greg Abbot, a Republican who signed the law in May, said the state would appeal Judge Garcia's ruling.

"Today's decision makes Texas' communities less safe," said Abbot, in a statement. "Because of this ruling, gang members and dangerous criminals will be set free to prey upon our communities."

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