The bill also allows police officers to question anybody they detain, forces local law enforcement to cooperate with detainer requests from federal immigration officials and threatens fines, imprisonment and removal from office on any state, county or city official who interferes with the enforcement of the state law.
The judge left in place the part of the law authorizing local law enforcement officials to question the immigration status of anybody they detain. Local law enforcement must not be held responsible for implementing SB 4 while they are busy saving lives. And he wrote that cities and towns had provided "overwhelming" and "ample" evidence that cooperating with immigration officials will "erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe" as well as harm the state economically. "However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution".
In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings, a prominent critic of SB 4, said he was pleased with Garcia's ruling on the law, which he considers to be an overreach by the state.
Senate Bill 4 or SB 4 was signed into law on May 7, 2017 and was to become effective on September 1, 2017. "A person who "endorses" a policy that prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws can not express his/her ideas, thoughts, views and beliefs without the real threat of punishment.This is the epitome of viewpoint discrimination".
The ruling - albeit temporary, as a future hearing is expected - serves as a slap to zealous anti-immigrant state officials and a resounding victory for marginalized immigrant communities, besieged by discriminatory laws.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has already vowed to appeal, arguing that the judge's ruling - which essentially maintains the status quo - is making Texas "less safe".
The US Department of Justice, which has made "sanctuary cities" a new priority under the Trump administration, had joined Texas is defending the law in court.
The timeline below chronicles the evens from the bill's filing in the Texas Senate and the several lawsuits and protests that ensued in the wake of its passage, to Wednesday's federal court ruling.
Expect Texas to fight this case all the way to the Supreme Court.
The judge also ruled that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claims that the provisions of SB 4 requiring local entities to fulfill all Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests would violate the Fourth Amendment. "This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas' law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld", said Governor Abbott. Rather than bringing our City together, Senate Bill 4 further marginalizes some of our most vulnerable populations.
For cities that are now fighting both state and federal attempts to push them into collaborating with immigration authorities - not to mention the city in Texas now trying to make sure its residents don't literally drown in their homes - that's a crucial respite.