SAN ANTONIO – Mayor Ron Nirenberg was joined by City Council members at a Thursday news conference, in calling the Senate Bill 4 preliminary injunction “a victory for common sense.”
Federal Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling Wednesday evening temporarily blocked the so-called “sanctuary cities” law from going into effect Friday.
“Now, San Antonio gets to re-focus its efforts on being an inclusive city where everyone is welcome and no one has to live in fear,” Nirenberg said.
“Our local law enforcement and law enforcement officers across the entire state are going to be asking not for your status, but they’re going to asking now how they can help,” District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana said.
Saldana is among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the state.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said with the help of city attorneys, the police general manual has been updated to reflect the ruling.
McManus read the portion that now reads: “Enforcement priorities of this department are to protect public safety and the priorities do not include asking any person for proof of citizenship or legal residency. Officers may not inquire into the immigration status of a victim or a witness to an alleged criminal offense unless the officer determines that the inquiry is necessary to investigate the offense or provide the victim or witness with information about federal visas designed to protect individuals providing assistance to law enforcement."
The chief said the one caveat that has changed is “unless an officer must ask to further investigate the offense.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has said the ruling makes Texas communities less safe. He also said gang members and dangerous criminals “will be free to prey upon our communities.”
“With all due respect to the governor, I disagree,” McManus said.
He said whether they’re here legally or illegally, gang members who commit crimes are violating the law.
“That’s what we’re concerned about, the crime that’s being committed, not one’s status. Whether they’re here legally or not, it’s the crime, the offense, not the immigration status,” McManus said.
The state has filed its appeal and its motion to stay. The preliminary injunction was denied late Thursday afternoon.
Text Order DENYING 191 Opposed Motion to Stay Pending Appeal. Pending before the Court is Defendants' application for stay pending appeal of the Court's preliminary injunction order enjoining them from implementing and enforcing certain provisions in SB 4, which goes into effect September 1, 2017. [Docket no. 191]. As explained in the Court's order, the preliminary injunction preserves the status quo. Only those portions of SB 4 that, on their face, are preempted by federal law and violate the United States Constitution are being enjoined. A stay would alter the status quo and allow the entirety of SB 4 to be implemented and enforced on September 1 despite prior findings of preemption and unconstitutionality.