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Federal Judge Blocks Texas's Harsh Anti-Sanctuary City Law

01 September, 2017, 01:50 | Author: Lloyd Doyle
  • Abortion providers sued over Texas' new ban on dilation and extraction abortions

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Texas from punishing so-called sanctuary cities.

SB4 also outlaws sanctuary cities - a loose term generally used to describe areas that limit co-operation with immigration agents - by criminalising and fining local officials and entities who do not comply with requests to hold jailed immigrants beyond their normal release times so they can be picked up by federal officers and potentially deported.

However, Garcia's ruling does still allow part of the law, which allows police to ask the immigration status of those they stop, to go ahead.

The federal order also blocked part of the law that prohibited local officials from adopting or endorsing policies that "materially limit the enforcement of immigration laws", calling that portion of the legislation vague.

In his 94-page ruling, the judge said that there is overwhelming evidence from local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 would "erode public trust and many communities less safe". "However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States constitution". SB 4 was authored by State Senator Charles Perry (R- Lubbock) and it was set to go into effect on September 1.

The impending law added to the anxiety felt by some undocumented immigrants forced to evacuate their flooded homes in Houston after Hurricane Harvey struck southeast Texas.

Garcia found that SB4 is vague and overbroad, creating a "real danger of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement; and finally, that it violates the Fourth Amendment's due process protections, since it requires law enforcement to detain suspected immigrants without sufficient probable cause". But Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said those provisions would probably not alter day-to-day operations significantly if they are followed the way the law states.

The law, Senate Bill 4, was challenged by several cities and counties, including the cities of Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. The San Antonio judge halted a central piece of the law, the threat of punishment for officials who don't hand over immigrants the federal government requests. SB4 was seen by many as a response to Hernandez and officials like her - something made evident by the governor's response to Wednesday's ruling.

Governor Abbot is appealing the ruling immediately and feels that there's Supreme Court precedent on his side, but I'm not entirely sure. Saenz added that according to the judge's ruling, a lawful stop can not be prolonged just to make an immigration inquiry, which is part of what made the Arizona statute ineffective. Texas state governor Greg Abbott signed the bill almost three months ago in an event that was broadcast on Facebook Live, and the consequences for defying it looked to be severe.

"Today's decision makes Texas' communities less safe".

The new Texas law uses the non-medical term "dismemberment abortion" to describe a procedure in which forceps and other instruments are used to remove the fetus from the womb. "We joined the lawsuit against SB 4 because we know that the law is discriminatory and can not be implemented without racial profiling".


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