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Federal judge temporarily blocks Texas anti-sanctuary cities bill

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas on Wednesday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] the implementation and enforcement of Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4) [text, PDF], which sought to ban so-called "sanctuary cities." Judge Orlando Garcia enjoined the state of Texas from enforcing, endorsing or otherwise implementing various sections of SB4 that would have prohibited local agencies from enforcing policies that bar officers from inquiring as to an individual's immigration status even during routine traffic stops. Some of these provisions also provide for fines or discipline such as "removal from office" against local officials who refuse to or otherwise fail to cooperate with federal immigration officials. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton [official website] released a statement [press release] vowing to appeal the ruling, joining Governor Greg Abbott's [official website] own calls for appeal. American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Director of Immigrants' Rights Project, Lee Gelernt, welcomed the order [ACLU press release] granting the injunction stating that: "Senate Bill 4 would have led to rampant discrimination and made communities less safe. That's why police chiefs and mayors themselves were among its harshest critics — they recognized it would harm, not help, their communities."\\\

The city of El Cenizo initiated this suit in early May, and the cities of San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Dallas, Houston and Travis subsequently joined via intervention or consolidation. Earlier this month, the Austin division of the same court dismissed [JURIST report] the state's action seeking a declaration that SB4 is constitutional. Specifically, federal judge Sam Sparks dismissed the action as moot stating that there was no "justiciable injury" to Texas, since there was not yet a challenge to the bill's constitutionality. The existence and functioning of sanctuary cities have come under fire since the very first week of President Donald Trump's [official profile] administration. From the beginning of the year, some states and cities have proposed legislation to crackdown on sanctuary policies, while some cities continue to stand behind their policies [JURIST op-ed]. In June the California State Assembly passed [JURIST report] two bills which, if passed by the senate, will strengthen protections for undocumented immigrant students in public schools from kindergarten through college by preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement [official website] officers from entering a school site without a valid judicial warrant and approval from the superintendent. In March, the Mississippi Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] to prohibit local sanctuary immigration policies. In February, the Alabama House approved [JURIST report] a bill to block funding for sanctuary universities. Earlier the same month, San Francisco filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the Trump administration over an executive order that would cut federal funding from sanctuary cities, including San Francisco.

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