A federal judge in San Antonio late Wednesday blocked the State of Texas from enforcing its law banning so called 'Sanctuary Cities' which was set to take effect in Friday.. News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"The defendants are enjoined from enforcing the provisions of SB 4," US District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote in a 110 page decision.SB 4, which was one of the state's Republican dominated Legislature's key priorities in this year's session, required cities and counties to cooperate with immigration officials, mainly in honoring so called 'detainers' that require a county to hold a person in jail if immigration officials request that they be held for potential deportation proceedings when they are scheduled for release.
Local sheriffs and police officials who refuse to enforce detainers can be fined, removed form office, and even jailed.
One of the most controversial provisions of the law, dubbed the 'show me your papers' clause, allows local police to inquire about the immigration status of a person who is 'detained,' including those stopped for a traffic offense. Texas big city police chiefs overwhelmingly blasted this portion of the law as a misuse of law enforcement.
“Tomorrow, as our families continue to recover from Hurricane Harvey, at the very least they will not be subjected to the threat of SB 4," said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party. "The fight against Trump’s deportation force is nowhere near over. There is much work to be done and we will provide more information in the coming days."
Gov. Greg Abbott blasted the ruling, and said the law will eventually be enforced.
“Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe,” Abbott said. “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 City of San Antonio, which was among the cities that sued to block the law, applauded the ruling.
"This is a victory for common sense and our San Antonio values,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “This law would have diminished the capacity of our local police officers to keep our communities safe and would have targeted members of our community. Today, San Antonio gets to refocus its efforts on being the most inclusive and welcoming city in the nation.”
Several San Antonio city officials, including Police Chief William McManus, testified that the law would harm public safety by forcing police to conduct additional duties at a time when violent crime in the city is rising, and worried that the law would erode critical support for the police in immigrant communities.
Several Texas cities and Latino rights groups argued against the law in a spirited court hearing last month which saw hundreds of protesters gather in front of the federal courthouse, chanting slogans and waving banners.
Garcia's order simply blocks the scheduled implementation of the law until several Constitutional issues the judge said the law raises can be considered. A date for a future hearing has not been set.