U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia granted a preliminary injunction of Senate Bill 4, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s key legislative priorities that seeks to outlaw “sanctuary” entities, the common term for governments that don’t enforce federal immigration laws.
The bill was scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, but opponents of the legislation, including the cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Cenizo, as well as Maverick and El Paso counties and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, argued the bill violates several provisions of the Constitution. Garcia’s decision means the bill is on hold until that issue is decided; his court will now likely set another date to determine SB4’s constitutionality.
His decision is a temporary, but significant blow to Abbott and other Republican backers of the bill who said it would help keep Texans safe from undocumented immigrants that have been arrested on criminal charges but released from custody by sheriffs or other elected officials who refuse to hold the alleged criminals for possible deportation.
See here for the background. You know how I feel about this. The story broke late yesterday, so this was all that was available at the time. I’m sure there will be much more reporting soon.
UPDATE: From the Chron story:
“The best interest of the public will be served by preserving the status quo and enjoining, prior to Sept. 1, the implementation and enforcement of those portions of SB 4 that, on their face, are preempted by federal law and violate the United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote.
The decision, which can be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, is a blow to one of the toughest immigration laws in the nation.
In order to obtain an injunction, the local governments and organizations challenging the law needed to prove they were harmed by it and likely to succeed in their claim that it is unconstitutional.
“We won over 90 percent of it,” said Luis Vera, a lawyer for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which represented the border city of El Cenizo in the lawsuit. “The state cannot mandate to the cities or police officers or sheriff’s offices how they run their police departments.”
The ruling found the plaintiffs made their case and were even helped during oral arguments by the state.
For instance, the judge noted the state “essentially concedes that the irreparable harm requirement is met.”
The judge quoted an argument made by one of the lawyers with the Texas Attorney General’s Office: “The state of Texas concedes, Your Honor, that if Senate Bill 4 is unconstitutional or a provision of it is severed by this court or this court finds it unconstitutional, if it is, and it would violate the constitutional rights of the public, then there is irreparable harm.”
The judge found that certain provisions of SB 4 conflict with, and are pre-empted by, federal law because enforcing SB 4 will interfere with the federal government’s authority to control immigration. The judge also found that enforcing SB 4 will result in First Amendment violations.
The judge also determined that vague prohibitions in SB 4 violate due process and “create a real danger of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”
In addition, he found that enforcement of the mandatory detainer provisions “will inevitably lead to Fourth Amendment violations.”
I am sure this will be appealed, and who knows what happens next. But for now, this is a big win.