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Federal judge blocks Texas from enforcing 'sanctuary cities' ban

On Wednesday night, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the state from implementing most provisions of Senate Bill 4, a "sanctuary cities" law that lets law enforcement ask about immigration status during routine interactions and punishes local officials who do not cooperate with requests from federal immigration agents to turn over immigrants for possible deportation.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that there is "overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe." He did not rule against allowing police officers to ask the immigration status of people they detain if they so desire, but Garcia said police can't then arrest the people on immigration charges, and he halted the requirement that all jail officials transfer undocumented immigrants to federal agents, as that likely violates the Fourth Amendment.

SB 4 was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 1, but this ruling puts it all on hold, and Garcia will soon set a date to determine if it is constitutional, The Texas Tribune reports. Gov. Greg Abbott (R), an enthusiastic backer of the bill, said the decision will be appealed.