August 30, 2017

San Antonio, TX - A federal court has partially granted a request to block Texas from implementing Senate Bill 4 (SB 4).

The law had been scheduled to take effect on Friday. The court order from U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia blocks many of the provisions of SB 4, including mandatory ICE detainers in local jails, restrictions on the free speech of local officials, and permitting police to act as immigration enforcement officers.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the law firm Sidley Austin LLP challenged SB 4 on behalf of the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, the City of El Paso, San Antonio City Councilmember Rey A. Saldana, the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, the Workers Defense Project, and La Union Del Pueblo Entero, alleging the law violates the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as other constitutional and statutory provisions.

MALDEF had asked the court to prevent Texans from being subject to the negative and punitive impact the law would bring about if it were to take effect as scheduled on Friday. Among other harmful provisions, the law would require local law enforcement authorities to hold people longer than would otherwise be the case based on a request from federal immigration authorities. It would also curb free speech protections by allowing for the removal or prosecution of elected officials who oppose SB 4 and advise officers against making immigration inquiries.

More than half of all Texans under the age of 18 are Latino, Asian American or Arab American, and 44 percent of the state’s total population falls within one of these three groups, with African Americans accounting for an additional 11.5 percent of residents. San Antonio – the largest city in Texas to date to challenge SB 4 in court – has more than 1.4 million residents. Nearly 64 percent of the city population is Latino, according to the U.S. Census.

  • Please attribute the following statement on today’s ruling to MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz:
“By enjoining the bulk of SB 4, the federal court has preserved the ability of elected officials, sheriffs, and police chiefs to prevent their police forces from becoming untrained and unrestrained enforcers of federal immigration law. While the court did not stop police officers from asking about immigration during a lawful detention, officers would be wise to avoid such inquiries because they could trigger a successful challenge to the detention itself, potentially jeopardizing legitimate work by local police.”

  • Please attribute the following statement to Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president for litigation:
“The key provisions of SB4 have been halted. If a police officer asks about immigration status, the questioned individual has the right not to answer and police cannot detain individuals solely on the suspicion that they are undocumented.”

  • Please attribute the following statement to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg:
“This is a victory for common sense and our San Antonio values. This law would have diminished the capacity of our local police officers to keep our communities safe and would have targeted members of our community. Today, San Antonio gets to refocus its efforts on being the most inclusive and welcoming city in the nation.”

  • Please attribute the following statement to Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of La Union Del Pueblo Entero:
“Our members applaud the judge’s ruling that temporarily blocks SB 4. Our communities reject the discrimination and hate peddled by President Trump and Governor Abbott. We joined the lawsuit against SB 4 because we know that the law is discriminatory and cannot be implemented without racial profiling.”

Read the court order here. Read a fact sheet and timeline on SB 4, and a summary of the legal arguments against it.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund