Just 2 days before SB 4 the “Show Me Your Papers” law was to take effect U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia has put a stay on the law. It will not go into effect on September 1st as Governor Abbott had planned.
In my June 8th article I wrote : As I’ve stated before SB 4 is a law that would allow racial profiling of people of color in Texas. This “Sanctuary City” law has already caused Organizations as well as private citizens to cancel their conventions and vacations to Texas. It has also caused many performers, comedians, musicians, bands and other groups to cancel concerts and performances in Texas. But beyond this is the impending damage and undue force this puts on our local police, sheriffs and highway patrol officers to also do the job of ICE enforcement. SB 4 would punish police chiefs, sheriffs and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents by turning over immigrants subject to possible deportation. Senate Bill 4 will outlaw “Sanctuary Cities” by requiring local police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and allowing police to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain. Under SB 4, local authorities are banned from adopting policies that prevent an officer of the law from asking about a person’s immigration status.
Sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders can be hit with a Class A misdemeanor, and possibly jail time, if they fail to cooperate with federal immigration authorities by honoring requests to hold inmates who are subject to deportation. They also could face civil penalties: $1,000 for a first offense and up to $25,500 for subsequent infractions. These penalties will also apply to public college campus police.link With this law in place why would anyone want to become an officer of the law or supervisor that might lose their job, serve jail time or be fined up to $25,500 for not enforcing SB 4 down to the smallest detail.
In tonight’s Texas Tribune the hold on SB 4 is explained and tells why one provision is being allowed to start on September 1st : Garcia halted the part of the bill that required jail officials to honor all detainers, and another that prevented law the other that prohibits “a pattern or practice that ‘materially limits’ the enforcement of immigration laws.” The detainer provision, he said, would violate the Fourth Amendment.
Garcia did let stand one of the most controversial portions of the law — allowing police officers to question the immigration status of people they detain. Because the inquiry into status isn’t a prolonged detention, he said, it wasn’t enjoined. But he explained that officers who make the inquiry are limited in what they can do with the information.
“If during a lawful detention or arrest an officer obtains information that a detained or arrested individual is undocumented he may not arrest the individual on this basis,” he said, adding that the officer is not required to ask the question. But he said if the officer feels like they should, they can only share the information.
“In summary, SB 4 gives local officers discretion to inquire and share information, but it does not provide them with discretion to act upon the information that they may obtain,” he wrote in a footnote to his 94-page ruling.
The bill was scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, but opponents of the legislation, including the cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Cenizo, as well as Maverick and El Paso counties and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, argued the bill violates several provisions of the Constitution. Garcia’s decision means the bill is on hold until that issue is decided; his court will now likely set another date to determine S B4’s constitutionality.
In his ruling, Garcia also noted the injunction would serve the public and cited the overwhelming opposition to the bill during public testimony at the Capitol. “The public interest in protecting constitutional rights, maintaining trust in local law enforcement and avoiding the heavy burdens that SB4 imposes on local entities will be served by enjoining these portions of SB4,” he said.
Of course Governor Abbott had to share his racially profiling personal view : “Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe,” he said in a statement. “Because of this ruling, gang members and dangerous criminals, like those who have been released by the Travis County Sheriff, will be set free to prey upon our communities. U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side. This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas’ law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”
But, hopefully in the end Judge Garcia’s rulings will stand. Because of the voices of the Mayors of all the major cities in Texas, the voices of all the major businesses in Texas, because of all the voices of the people in Texas and groups including LULAC, ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, MALDEF and so many others involved in the #Resistance is proving we all make a difference.
This ruling comes just in time with the horrendous hurricane Harvey causing massive destruction and loss of life. It will now allow undocumented immigrants to seek help and not fear risking their lives because of deportation. I truly believe that in the end the voices of the majority of Texans will be heard and SB 4 will be struck down. We all must continue to speak out against this type of racial profiling of people of color and also from threatening imprisonment of local mayors, police, sheriffs, and city officials for not enforcing such a racist law.