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Federal appeals court allows parts of SB4 to temporarily take effect

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Today, a federal appeals court allowed some parts of Texas’ controversial and discriminatory law, SB4 to temporarily take effect. Most importantly, the court ruled that the state of Texas can require local police across Texas to hold people without a warrant if they are suspected of having previous immigration violations.

The appeals court is scheduled to hear full arguments from Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and other cities, counties on Nov. 6 who claim the law is unconstitutional.

Texas Civil Rights Project broke down the ruling saying that:

  • The endorsement prohibition of SB 4 is still blocked, so public officials are still free to express their views regarding immigration enforcement by law enforcement officers, consistent with the First Amendment.
  • The prohibition against local agencies and campus police adopting or enforcing policies that “materially limit” the enforcement of immigration law is still blocked pending the conclusion of the appeal.
  • The prohibition against patterns or practices by local agencies and campus police that “materially limit” the enforcement of immigration law is still blocked pending the conclusion of the appeal.
  • SB4’s provisions mandating cities and counties “honor and fulfill” immigration detainer requests from the federal government has gone into effect pending the conclusion of the appeal. Importantly, the panel noted that SB4 “does not require detention pursuant to every ICE detainer request; rather, the ‘comply with, honor, and fulfill’ provision mandates that local agencies cooperate according to existing ICE detainer practice and law.”

Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly claimed that SB 4 is only targeted towards criminals and that those who haven’t done anything wrong have “nothing to be concerned about”. But if SB4 is allowed to go fully into effect, it would legalize racial profiling, discriminate against people of color, create a mass deportation pipeline, and make communities less safe.

Austin Council Member Greg Casar released the following statement today regarding the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Texas’ anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4:

“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a damaging ruling on Senate Bill 4 today, but we cannot be deterred. Loss is both unacceptable and inevitable in our pursuit of justice. But just as those fighting in the civil rights movement didn’t give up when they suffered many losses, neither can we.

Our fight at the Fifth Circuit will continue in November, but I am calling on our local governments in Texas to do more than rely on the court system. The Fifth Circuit’s ruling today allows for dangerous portions of SB 4 to go into effect, but it also allows local governments, like Austin, to take reasonable steps to ensure that our policing resources are not misdirected from our public safety needs and toward Trump’s deportation machine.

Every local government and local law enforcement agency can take important steps in the coming days to defy Abbott’s racist coercion. We can pass immigrant protection policies that direct our law enforcement agencies to protect our residents’ constitutional rights—the rights that we still all have—even under SB 4.

I am calling on the Mayor and on my Council colleagues to join me in passing a policy at the City of Austin that will protect the civil rights of all people—especially immigrants—under the state’s dangerous new policing regime. I’ll be asking the Austin City Council to consider these policies as soon as possible.”

This is a developing story and we’ll be updating this post with more information.