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North Texas Immigration Advocates Say The Fight Against 'Sanctuary Cities' Law Isn't Over

Stephanie Kuo
Immigration advocates gathered in downtown Dallas Thursday to celebrate the temporary block of the "anti-sanctuary cities" law that was set to go into effect Sept. 1

A federal judge's decision to block the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill has immigration advocates in North Texas cheering — but the fight to stop the law is far from over.

SB4 was scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1. It would have given police and other law enforcement the authority to question the immigration status of people they arrest or even stop in routine interactions. The law, as passed, also sought to punish local government officials who don’t cooperate fully with all federal immigration requests.

News of the temporary injunction was cause for celebration for immigration advocates across North Texas, who gathered at a public event Thursday in Belo Garden Park in downtown Dallas.

Juan Carlos Cerda works with the Texas Organizing Project, which is one of the groups that filed a lawsuit against the state alongside the largest cities in Texas — minus Fort Worth. Cerda is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA. He’s been in Texas for 17 years and said his parents worked hard to build a life in Dallas.

"But SB4 threatened to take away everything: their family and their freedom," Cerda said. "And that is why I will continue fighting for my parents and my community so that laws like SB4 are never the law of the land. This is just as much my home as it is Greg Abbott’s, and I will fight for it."

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia only halted parts of the law: one that required jail officials to honor all requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation, and another that prohibited practices that would limit the enforcement of immigration laws. Some of the most controversial elements still stand.

Critics of SB4 have said the law would lead to racial profiling by police and would spark fear and mistrust in immigrant communities. State Rep. Victoria Neave, of Dallas, said the temporary block is only the beginning of a long legal battle.

"We’re pleased with the order, but we know it’s a first step in combating discriminatory legislation," she said. "We know it’s a first step toward fighting for equity. And it took all of us working together."

In a statement released shortly after the ruling, Gov. Greg Abbott said the injunction makes communities less safe, and that the state plans to appeal the decision immediately. 

Former KERA staffer Stephanie Kuo is an award-winning radio journalist who worked as a reporter and administrative producer at KERA, overseeing and coordinating editorial content reports and logistics for the Texas Station Collaborative – a statewide news consortium including KERA, KUT in Austin, Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.