A Texas federal judge has temporarily blocked a state immigration law that would have outlawed sanctuary cities and punished local officials who do not cooperate with federal deportation efforts, The Washington Post reports.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s decision delivers a temporary blow to the state’s campaign to compel localities to detain immigrants so federal agents can take them into custody.
“Indeed, at the end of the day, the Legislature is free to ignore the pleas of city and county officials, along with local police departments, who are in the trenches. The Court cannot and does not second guess the Legislature. However, the State may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution.” Garcia wrote in the 94-page decision.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton both stated that they would appeal Garcia’s decision, adding that this would make “Texas’ communities less safe.”
The law would fine local officials who refused to assist federal agencies in working to deport illegal immigrants up to $25,500 a day, as elected and appointed officials could lose their jobs, and police and sheriffs could go to jail for up to a year on misdemeanor charges, The Post writes.
According to estimates, currently there are 1.6 million undocumented immigrants in Texas.
Garcia’s decision also comes amid growing fears that the Trump administration will end an Obama-era program that has granted nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the United States as children reprieves from deportation.
Texas is also one of 10 states that have threatened to sue the Trump administration if it does not begin to phase out the deportation-relief program by next week.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January that threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, but a federal judge later halted that order, saying it was overly broad. The Trump administration has continued to try to steer funding away from cities and towns that refuse to help enforce immigration law, The Post writes.