An appeals court has issued a temporary stay on an injunction imposed by a lower court on a Texas law prohibiting sanctuary city policies.
The unanimous decision from the panel of three judges came in response to the issuing of an injunction on Aug. 31 by a district court judge in San Antonio, which was due to come into force Sept. 1, according to The Daily Signal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that enforcing the injunction would have meant that the "state necessarily suffers the irreparable harms of denying the public interest in the enforcement of its laws." It therefore halted the portions of the injunction pending a November ruling on outstanding questions.
The law states that local law enforcement officials must "comply with, honor and fulfill" requests from federal immigration agencies when they detain immigrants in the country illegally.
The court ruled that detention is not required every time a "detainer" is issued by federal immigration authorities. Detainers are requests for local authorities to hold an individual being sought by federal immigration agents for 48 hours to enable a U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement agent to intervene.
The court also found that local law enforcement authorities do not need to comply with a detainer if the individual concerned can provide proof they are in the country legally.
"Enforcing immigration law helps prevent dangerous criminals from being released into Texas communities," Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement welcoming the decision.
Other officials say the legal issues involved are more complicated.
"All cities and counties in Texas, whether or not they are parties to this suit, need guidance from the courts about the boundaries between federal immigration policy, state police powers and the local discretion crucial to the day-to-day pursuit of public safety on our streets and in our neighborhoods," Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said, reports The Texas Tribune.
Travis County is one of the jurisdictions that has refused to honor many detainer requests. Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced in a statement on Sept. 25 that the county would comply with the ruling.
A further hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6 on various parts of the legislation.
"Texans cannot wait nor afford another round of years-long litigation while this law tears families apart and sows distrust of and confusion among our law enforcement agencies," Democratic state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin said. "If the court allows the state's delay tactics to succeed, it will further normalize Texas Republicans' dysfunctional one-party rule and condemn Texas Latinos to living under a cloud of uncertainty and fear."
Sources: The Daily Signal, The Attorney General of Texas, The Texas Tribune / Featured Image: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: World Travel & Tourism Council/Wikimedia Commons, U.S. Customs & Immigration Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons