September 25, 2017

(Los Angeles, CA) - A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today largely denied a motion by the State of Texas to allow portions of Texas' SB 4 to take effect, but permitted limited implementation, pending resolution of a full appeal, of two of the law's provisions that had previously been blocked.

Texas' request followed a ruling in late August by Judge Orlando Garcia of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas that temporarily blocked implementation of key provisions of SB 4, including a mandate to honor ICE detainers in local jails, restrictions on the free speech of local officials, and permission for local police to act as immigration enforcement officers.

The Fifth Circuit order continues to block the free speech restrictions against local officials who criticize or otherwise oppose SB 4. The order allows the state to prohibit local jurisdictions from barring officers "who, in effect, have authority that may impact immigration, from ‘assisting or cooperating with a federal immigration officer as reasonable or necessary, including providing enforcement assistance[.]' " The order also allows limited implementation of portions of SB 4 requiring jails to comply with detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but local jurisdictions remain free to decline requests they believe could violate constitutional rights or other laws.

Please attribute the following statement to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF:

"In the absence of any urgency other than the mean-spiritedness of Texas state officials, the Court of Appeals nonetheless stayed portions of Judge Garcia's carefully-considered preliminary injunction. While that is a disappointment, the court only lifted two portions of the injunction. Because the court panel limited the scope of local police cooperation with enforcement that must be permitted, one portion of the stay would be of limited effect. The net practical effect of the stay relates to detainer requests from the federal government. Here too the court panel made clear that the scope of SB 4's mandated compliance with detainer requests does not include actually detaining immigrants where the law would prohibit continued detention. This preserves the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment in protecting the rights of everyone, including immigrants."

Read the Fifth Circuit court order here.

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:

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