Police agencies suspend their work on policy changes in the aftermath of a federal judge’s decision halting key sections of a new Texas law. The judge allowed officers to continue questioning the immigration status of people they detain.
Immigrants and their allies welcomed the temporary suspension of the Texas law against “sanctuary cities” and promise to keep fighting, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. A federal judge last week halted major provisions of the law. The measure, known as Senate Bill 4, would have punished local government heads and elected officials who didn’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia blocked the part of the bill that honors all detainers and that prohibits “a pattern or practice that materially limits” the enforcement of immigration laws.” He let stand a provision allowing police officers to question the immigration status of people they detain. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised an immediate appeal.
North Texas law enforcement agencies, which were working on new policies, are waiting to see what happens next. “We will not do anything at this time in regards to SB 4, unless the injunction is lifted,” said Hurst Police Chief Stephen Moore. Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “Senate Bill 4 would have led to rampant discrimination and made communities less safe. That’s why police chiefs and mayors themselves were among its harshest critics — they recognized it would harm, not help, their communities.” The Pew Research center estimates that there are 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.