A federal judge in San Antonio on Wednesday temporarily blocked the implementation of a new Texas state law that bans immigrant “sanctuary cities” and has pitted Republican state leaders against several Democratic-leaning cities. The Austin American-Statesman says Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling marks a victory for opponents of the controversial law that has been a Republican rallying cry. The ruling stops the law from taking effect as scheduled on Friday. Garcia’s temporary injunction would require a higher court’s decision to allow the law’s implementation. Otherwise, the law could remain in purgatory for months while a federal lawsuit challenging its constitutionality clears Garcia’s court.
Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to appeal the ruling as soon as possible. He said the ruling “makes Texas’ communities less safe.” The law would give local law enforcement the power to inquire about a person’s immigration status during routine police interactions, including traffic stops. It would require local law enforcement to comply with all requests from federal immigration authorities to hold local jail inmates suspected of living in the country illegally and would allow civil as well as criminal penalties for elected officials who create contrary policies protecting immigrants. Critics argue that the law encourages racial profiling, frays relations between police and immigrant communities, violates the First and Fourth Amendment, and will break up immigrant families.