Texas ban on sanctuary city policies can stand for now, appeals court rules

(CNN) — A federal appeals court upheld most provisions of a controversial Texas law that prohibits sanctuary city policies in the state — a win for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

The bill, referred to as SB4, established civil penalties for local government and law enforcement officials who don’t comply with immigration laws and detention requests. It was blocked by a lower court in August, just before it went into effect.

In a win for Abbott, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the law can remain in effect while the court case plays out. That applies to all but one provision, which punishes local officials for “endorsing” policies that limit enforcement of immigration laws.

Shortly after the ruling, Abbott tweeted that the law is now in effect.

“Texas ban on sanctuary city policies upheld by federal court of appeals,” he said Tuesday night. “Allegations of discrimination were rejected.”

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also applauded the ruling.

“Today’s decision is an important step in restoring legality to our immigration system, which is what President Trump wants, what the American people deserve, and what the laws passed by Congress are intended to achieve,” Sessions said in a statement.

The ACLU issued a travel alert for Texas over the bill, and said it is challenging the latest ruling. Lee Gelernt, the organization’s deputy director of Immigrants’ Rights Project, said they are looking at all the legal options.

“The court made clear that we remain free to challenge the manner in which the law is implemented, so we will be monitoring the situation on the ground closely,” said Gelernt, who argued the case before the US Court of Appeals.

“We are also pleased that the court narrowed the law in certain respects and accepted Texas’ critical concession that localities are free to decline ICE requests for assistance to preserve local resources.”