On Wednesday, two days before Senate Bill 4 was set to go into effect, Judge Orlando L. Garcia of United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, filed a temporary injunction against the bill, stopping it from going into effect on September 1st. Immigration activists and lawmakers who vehemently opposed the bill now have the time needed to go forward with their suit against the legislation, originally signed by Texas governor, Greg Abbott.
Judge Garcia granted the injunction based on his belief of the bill being unconstitutional and his ruling blocks three parts of the law. One part of the bill states that law enforcement may not “endorse or enforce” any policy that would violate federal immigration enforcement. Lawyers who have filed the suit against the state say this provision is a violation of the First Amendment, due to the fact that the bill seeks to punish law enforcement strictly based on their beliefs countering federal policy.
Texas plans on appealing Judge Garcia’s injunction in the coming weeks, with Greg Abbott saying he is “confident” the bill is constitutional and will be passed. Judge Garcia upheld areas of the legislation allowing law enforcement to ask the immigration status of detainees, however he did block the provision forcing law enforcement to comply with immigration detainer requests. Essentially, Judge Garcia’s ruling shows that he believes the policy in handling arrests and immigration status should be left up to the discretion of local law enforcement, and not federal policy.
Our Verdict: The precedent that was set by Texas in passing this bill, is now on halt as the constitutionality is being questioned. Even though this injunction is not permanent, the time that it gives will allow activists to move forward with their suit, hopefully ending in a ruling of unconstitutionality.