The Texas “Papers Please” Law Has Been Blocked in Court

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Good news -- Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4) has been temporarily blocked in federal court by a judge who ruled in favor of the local city leaders who challenged it.

As U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia pointed out in his ruling, even the state's law enforcement agencies wanted no part of being involved in immigration enforcement.

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,” wrote Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, in reference to Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a bill targeting so-called sanctuary cities.

SB4, which would require local law enforcement to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has been called a “show me your papers” bill by advocates who say SB4 is unconstitutional. Under the law, officials refusing to comply with ICE could face a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and potential prison time up to a year), additional fines, and possible removal from elected or appointed office.

Governor Greg Abbott responded to the ruling in a manner than made me visibly angry this morning when I read it.

Abbott says Judge Garcia's ruling means "gang members and dangerous criminals" will be "set free to prey upon our communities," which is a pretty fantastical thing to say considering that the law had not even gone into effect yet. Exactly zero people are going to be "set free to prey upon our communities" because of this ruling.

In his response, Abbott singled out the Travis County (Austin) Sheriff's Department for releasing "gang members and dangerous criminals," highlighting the deep divide between the state's Republican-dominated government and actual law enforcement officials who opposed SB4.

Texas attorney general and indicted-fraudster Ken Paxton will appeal the ruling, of course.

It strikes me that a significant portion of the state GOP's agenda has either collapsed at the legislature or been struck down in court.

I don't necessarily see that as a sign that the state is moderating, just that Republican ideas are exceptionally bad.

  • The Texas GOP seems bound and determined to race to the top of the list of states who have spent far too much money defending unconstitutional laws. I know my own state of AZ has been proudly vying for this title for quite some time now.

  • muselet

    As I seem never to tire of mentioning, Daryl Gates signed Special Order 40 back in 1979, prohibiting under most conditiions LAPD officers from asking the immigration status of the victims of, or witnesses to, crimes.

    Gates was no bleeding-heart Lefty, but even he understood the city would be safer if not–bad-guys felt safe talking to the cops. Despite the tedious predictions of a coming crime wave, Los Angeles got safer (yeah, it’s more complicated than just SO 40, but that was a factor).

    When an unreconstructed law’n’order! troglodyte like Daryl Gates was significantly more advanced in his thinking than are Texas lawmakers and state officials … well, it means Texas is still Texas. Yee-bleedin’-haw.


  • Georgie

    Good, the states and the courts need to keep fighting back on this racist bullshit. Oh and trump, blow it out your ass. .