By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
A three-judge panel ruled on Monday, Sept. 25 that elements of Texas’ Senate Bill 4 (SB4) immigration legislation can be enforced. The legislation cracks down on sanctuary cities and passes on immigration enforcement responsibilities and powers to local government and law enforcement agencies in conjunction with federal immigration law – including the ability to interrogate crime victims and witnesses on their immigration status.
“SB4 “Show me your papers” is really bad for Texas,” Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke posted to Twitter shortly after the announcement. “Ask the sheriffs and police chiefs. [It] makes us less safe to begin profiling fellow Americans.”
The ruling comes after federal Judge Orlando Garcia placed a temporary injunction blocking the enactment of certain parts of the bill that would require jail officials to honor all detainers. Monday’s decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the detainer provision could be enacted.
“While we would have preferred that the court fully upheld the injunction imposed by the San Antonio federal court,” said Michelle Tremillo, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) Education Fund in an official statement Tuesday, “we continue to be ready to fight on multiple fronts to completely repeal this racist law, through the courts and on the streets.”
Despite fierce opposition from immigrant advocates and Latino leaders across Texas, Republicans statewide are defending SB4 as a necessary tool to enforce federal immigration law. Opponents view it as legislation targeting the Latino and immigrant communities, encouraging racial profiling, and poisoning relations between the police and the communities they are charged to protect.
“No part of SB 4 should be allowed to take effect before its legality has been affirmed by the courts or the law has been struck down as the trial court deemed likely,” State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, who serves as policy chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said in an official statement. “SB 4 must be disposed of in a timely manner so that the legislature can move on and get to work on the issues that matter to all Texans.”
An official hearing on the state’s appeal of Judge Garcia’s ruling is scheduled for Nov. 6.