Thursday night, a federal judge blocked major provisions of Texas’s racist “show me your papers” law from going into effect, just hours before the bill’s September 1 implementation date. While Vox’s Dara Lind writes that the temporary block “doesn’t stop every part of the law that had local police officers concerned,” it’s nonetheless a victory for immigrant rights activists and communities of color struggling in the midst of Hurricane Harvey. Lind:
Among the parts of SB4 that have been put on hold:
- A provision that would have forced local jails to honor federal agents’ requests to hold immigrants after they’d otherwise be released, so that ICE could pick them up.
- A provision that would have barred any local official from “endorsing,” or even appearing to endorse, any policy that would have materially limited immigration enforcement (including, possibly, standing on stage with advocacy groups that were advocating for such limits).
- A provision that would have required local police to allow their officers to cooperate with federal agents whenever possible, including “enforcement assistance” of federal immigration law.
Mother Jones writes that “a section of the law that gives police the authority to ask people about their immigration status will still be allowed to go into effect, according to the ruling.” But as MALDEF notes, individuals asked don’t have to answer. Lind writes that ”if they ask about immigration status, the law doesn’t allow them to do anything with that information beyond sending it to ICE—they can’t hold onto someone they would otherwise let go while they wait to hear back from ICE about the detainee’s immigration status, for example.”
Lind notes that advocates still see this ruling as a victory because local law enforcement officers who don’t want to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer be punished. “The battle is far from over,” noted Austin council member Greg Casar, “Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton will likely try to appeal today’s ruling. And we know we have a long way to go to protect everyone’s rights from the constant attacks by the Trump and Abbott administrations.”
“Tomorrow, we will continue to fight for the basic rights of our families. But today, we should celebrate the power of the statewide movement we have built together.”