JUDGE BLOCKS TEXAS’ TOUGH ‘ SANC­TU­ARY CITIES’ LAW

Chicago Sun-Times - - REMEMBERING | NATION BEAT -

AUSTIN, Texas — A fed­eral judge late Wed­nes­day tem­po­rar­ily blocked most of Texas’ tough new “sanc­tu­ary cities” law that would have let po­lice of­fi­cers ask peo­ple dur­ing rou­tine stops whether they’re in the U. S. legally and threat­ened sher­iffs with jail time for not co­op­er­at­ing with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

The law, known as Se­nate Bill 4, had been cheered by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and was set to take ef­fect Fri­day.

The rul­ing by U. S. District Judge Or­lando Gar­cia in San An­to­nio was handed down as anx­i­eties about im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment in Texas have again flared in the wake of Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey. Houston po­lice Chief Art Acevedo, an out­spo­ken critic of the law, got word of the de­ci­sion while stand­ing in­side a down­town con­ven­tion cen­ter where about 10,000 peo­ple have sought shel­ter. He high- fived an­other of­fi­cer.

“We needed a break. That’s a break for us,” said Acevedo, whose depart­ment has con­ducted thou­sands of high- wa­ter res­cues.

The mea­sure sailed through the Repub­li­can- con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture de­spite months of protests and op­po­si­tion from busi­ness groups, which wor­ried that it could cause a la­bor- force short­age and send a neg­a­tive eco­nomic mes­sage.

Gar­cia wrote in his 94- page rul­ing that Texas’ law was pre- empted by ex­ist­ing fed­eral statute and there­fore un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The judge noted that when it was be­ing con­sid­ered in public leg­isla­tive hear­ings, only eight peo­ple tes­ti­fied in fa­vor of it while 1,600 “showed up to op­pose it.”

Repub­li­can Gov. Greg Ab­bott, who signed the law in May, said Texas would ap­peal im­me­di­ately and ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the state would pre­vail.

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