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Immigrants Celebrate Injunction Blocking TX ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Law

Hundreds protested the passage of Senate Bill 4, the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill, during this year’s session of the Texas Legislature. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

by Mark Richardson

AUSTIN, Texas – Immigration advocates say they are overjoyed that a federal judge has blocked the Texas “sanctuary cities” bill from going into effect but have much more work to do.

A federal district judge in San Antonio issued a preliminary injunction this week, halting the controversial measure, which was designed to force local law enforcement officials to carry out federal immigration regulations or face criminal charges. The measure, Senate Bill 4, had been scheduled to become effective today.

Cristina Parker, the communications director of Grassroots Leadership, says the temporary injunction will give undocumented immigrants in Texas some breathing room.

“Even though we’ve maintained all along that SB 4 is unconstitutional in its entirety, we weren’t so sure the judge would fall on our side on that, but obviously we were super vindicated and excited that he did,” she says.

Passage of SB 4 was considered a priority by conservative leaders during the recent session of the Texas Legislature. Shortly after it was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, it was challenged in the courts by a coalition of immigration advocates, including the ACLU and Texas LULAC. The suit also was joined by several rural and urban Texas cities and counties.

In his ruling, Judge Orlando Garcia wrote that parts of SB 4 violated the Fourth Amendment and that enforcement of the measure would make communities less safe. Parker says it’s important for groups such as hers to let the immigrant communities know about the ruling, particularly those displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

“So many people are not even able to be in their homes right now, and so I’m sure that there are plenty of people who need to hear this news,” she notes. “We’re putting it out over social media, we’re sending it out to every listserv, but it would definitely be understandable that folks who are impacted by Harvey would not be able to get it right now.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an appeal of the SB 4 ruling on Thursday. The judge has not yet set a date for a hearing on a permanent injunction in the case.

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