Preliminary injunction to stop 'sanctuary cities' ban granted by federal judge

Law allows police officers to ask detainees about immigration status

SAN ANTONIO – A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction that will stop the “sanctuary cities” ban from going into effect Friday.

The national general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens and his lead plaintiff, the mayor of El Cenizo, the oldest and smallest sanctuary city in Texas, both sounded elated by Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling.

“Well, I’m happy,” said Raul Reyes, mayor of El Cenizo.

“He’s taken all the meat out of (Senate Bill 4),” said Luis Vera, national general counsel for LULAC.

As a result, Vera said local law enforcement still has the discretion to ask those they detain about their immigration status, like they've always had.

But he said for now, the difference is law enforcement cannot detain or arrest anyone based on their legal status, only for any offense they allegedly committed.

Vera also said they can't call ICE or hold people until ICE gets to a scene or traffic stop.

The injunction also prevents the state from fining or removing law enforcement and public officials for not following SB 4 mandates, and it allows law enforcement to give Immigration and Customs Enforcement information about undocumented immigrants only if they want to. It’s not required, but they cannot arrest or detain those they stop.

"We knew this bill was not only reckless, it was dangerous and very discriminatory,” Reyes said.

Reyes said he believes the judge’s decisions shows he’s on the right side of history. El Cenizo, just south of Laredo, was the first of many plaintiffs. Cities such as San Antonio, Houston and El Paso then joined.

It’s likely the fight will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Several leaders released statements about Thursday’s ruling. You can read those below:

Gov. Greg Abbott

“Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe. 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.

U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side. This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas' law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”

Sheriff Javier Salazar

“As Sheriff, I should be free to enforce the law and protect my community without fear of being unconstitutionally removed from office.”

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus

"I am thankful that for the meantime, we can focus all our energy on our prime objectives of community policing, responding to calls for service and solving crimes."

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg

"This is a victory for common sense and our San Antonio values. 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.”

District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana

“I commend Judge Orlando Garcia’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction preventing this discriminatory bill from coming into effect on Sept. 1. Stopping this law allows our officers to focus on the job of preventing and combating crime, rather than doing the job of immigration officers. This judgment assures our neighbors in the immigrant community to feel empowered to come out of the dark shadows that have clouded their relationship with local law enforcement.

“As advocates prepared our community for the possible implementation of Senate Bill 4, it was clear that the Governor and Lt. Governor hit their intended target through fear and the threat of undermining local control. On Facebook, with one fell swoop of the pen, Governor Abbott destroyed years-long efforts of building trust between law enforcement and the community. Rather than bringing our City together, Senate Bill 4 further marginalizes some of our most vulnerable populations. It is with Judge Garcia's court order that we begin to repair the damages brought by this discriminatory law. I ask the State to resist the urge to appeal this judgment and allow Texas law enforcement agencies to rebuild the trust that has been eroded by Senate Bill 4.

After offering my personal testimony about the many ways in which Senate Bill 4 violates basic constitutional rights and listening to the leaders of several law enforcement agencies emphasize how this bill puts public safety at risk, I'm pleased to see today's judgement. Facing the possibility of being removed from office and fined could never deter me from doing what I wholeheartedly believe is the just and right thing to do for our immigrant community and the safety of our entire City. The discretion our police officers use and the relationships they build with community members is a vital component of our commitment to ensuring public safety. I will continue to fight against this heavy-handed action of the state legislature until Senate Bill 4 is declared unconstitutional, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.”

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