JUDGE BLOCKS TEXAS’ TOUGH ‘ SANCTUARY CITIES’ LAW
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.