Judges’ Ruling Allows Texas Anti-Sanctuary Law To Be Implemented
By Shari Rendall
On September 30, a unanimous three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit stayed two significant portions of Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling that blocked implementation of Texas’ anti-sanctuary law. They said, “When a statute is enjoined, the State necessarily suffers the irreparable harm of denying the public interest in the enforcement of its laws.”
In his decision, Judge Garcia, relying on the case of Arizona v. U.S. contended that SB 4 was preempted because it expanded the ‘limited circumstances’ in which law enforcement may perform the functions of immigration officers. However, the 5th Circuit determined that nothing in the Arizona decision “prohibited such assistance” and further, federal law provides for such assistance.
More importantly, the appellate panel stayed Judge Garcia’s injunction with respect to honoring detainer requests. Judge Garcia determined that detention pursuant to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer request is a Fourth Amendment seizure that must be supported by probable cause and since “local officials are not authorized or trained to assess the probable cause of removability, they are not capable of making a particularized assessment in light of the information available to them.” The 5th Circuit panel disagreed with Judge Garcia finding that SB 4 complies with existing ICE detainer practice and law.
Because of the 5th Circuit’s decision, Sheriff Sally Hernandez (one of the most vociferous opponents to SB 4) said that her office would now comply with all detainer requests. Previously Sheriff Hernandez did not honor these requests saying her “jail can’t be seen as a holding tank for federal immigration offenders.”
While this litigation is far from resolved, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lauded the ruling. “We are pleased today’s 5th Circuit ruling will allow Texas to strengthen public safety by implementing the key components of Senate Bill 4,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Enforcing immigration law helps prevent dangerous criminals from being released into Texas communities.