In a temporary ruling that will likely set the stage for a protracted court battle, a federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that Texas may not enforce a new law banning sanctuary cities. The law, which was scheduled to take effect this week, would have prohibited cities from enacting policies that prevent local officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. It would have also given police the ability to ask anyone they arrest or detain for their citizenship documents and compelled local officials to comply with federal detainer requests. In one of the ruling’s more bizarre elements, Judge Orlando Garcia, a Bill Clinton appointee, said that the law was likely in violation of the First Amendment.
“The government may disagree with certain viewpoints, but they cannot ban them just because they are inconsistent with the view that the government seeks to promote,” Judge Garcia wrote. “SB 4 clearly targets and seeks to punish speakers based on their viewpoint on local immigration enforcement policy.”
Er, this is about the law, not about a government official’s opinion about said law? Where did this idiot get his license to practice? There’s nothing in this law prohibiting anyone from speaking out in favor of illegal immigration. To rule that the government is powerless to enforce the practices of government invalidates the entire system! What policies CAN the government implement, if that’s the case?
In a statement, Texas Governor Greg Abbot said the state would appeal the ruling.
“U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side,” Abbott said. “This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas’ law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”
Immigration-rights groups applauded the ruling, however, claiming that it was a victory for both Texas Hispanics and the Constitution.
“The court was right to strike down virtually all of this patently unconstitutional law,” said the ACLU. “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.”
How would it make communities less safe? Well, it’s the tired old argument (which is, by the way, not shared by many law enforcement personnel, despite what the left tells us) that says that illegal immigrants will be afraid to contact the police for fear of being turned over to ICE. This, in turn, leads to a lower level of cooperation between police and illegal immigrant communities, hindering the extent to which cops can do their jobs in those areas. It’s a claim without any evidence; many police officials, indeed, say that these communities rarely cooperate with law enforcement regardless of the city’s sanctuary policies.
For his part, the Texas governor insisted that the ruling was bad news for law-abiding citizens.
“Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe,” Abbott said. “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.”