The Corner

Politics & Policy

Federal Judge Blocks Texas Law Banning Sanctuary Cities

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Texas from enforcing its law preventing jurisdictions within the state from acting as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. The law, which was slated to go into effect tomorrow, is the toughest of its kind in the country.

Many states compel local municipalities to cooperate with federal enforcement of immigration law, but Texas would be the first to require them to honor detainer requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

The bill would also levy misdemeanor charges and possible jail time against state and local authorities who refuse to comply, as well as impose civil fines of up to $25,000 daily on municipalities that violate the anti-sanctuary provisions.

Several Texas cities, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio — all of which have Democratic leadership — joined a lawsuit against the state to oppose the law. On Wednesday, federal judge Orlando L. Garcia granted a preliminary injunction in that case, preventing the law from going into effect while the lawsuit continues.

Garcia took issue with three particular provisions within the bill, including one stating that local officials cannot “adopt, enforce or endorse” any policy that limits the enforcement of immigration law. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that the bill’s prohibition on “endorsing” certain policies is a violation of officials’ First Amendment rights.

He also determined that the law’s ban on policies limiting enforcement of immigration law didn’t adequately define the forbidden conduct, calling it “an inscrutable standard” that could be enforced in a “discriminatory” manner.

Texas plans to appeal this decision, and the case will be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Supporters of the bill insist that it is a necessary corrective to the trend across the country in which left-wing jurisdictions openly refuse to enforce federal immigration law or, worse, to impede the ability of federal officials to enforce that law themselves.

Some so-called sanctuary cities have gone so far as to explicitly prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Several cities have even released criminal illegal aliens from prisons to protect them from federal officials, even as the city government continues to receive federal law-enforcement funding.

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