Houston’s mayor lauded a federal ruling to temporarily block portions of Texas’ “sanctuary cities” law that would have let police officers routinely question a person’s immigration status.
“Happy to learn a federal judge blocked the Texas law aimed at making local police immigration enforcers. Need them for fighting local crime,” Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted on Wednesday.
Turner’s comments followed his plea earlier this week encouraging local residents living in the country illegally not to avoid emergency shelters amid Hurricane Harvey flooding. Some residents had feared that immigration officials would carry out raids at shelters or otherwise inquire about people’s legal status.
Senate Bill 4, which was set to take effect this Friday and would have allowed police officers to ask people about their immigration status during routine interactions like a traffic stop, was hailed by President Donald Trump’s administration and the Department of Justice for its aggressive stance toward illegal immigration. Opponents of the law argued that it violated the US Constitution and would subject some minorities to discrimination.
The law would have also punished local law-enforcement authorities who refused to comply with federal requests to detain people.
Texas’ four largest cities – San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas – had joined a lawsuit against the law, claiming it would impose a chilling effect on their communities, the AP reported.
US District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling said there was “overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe.”
“The Court cannot and does not second guess the Legislature,” Garcia’s ruling said. “However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution.”
Garcia suggested that even portions of the law that his ruling did not block may not survive other legal tests in the future, according to the Associated Press.