Texas Senate Bill 4

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Texas Senate Bill 4 (or Texas SB 4) is a bill that effectively bans sanctuary cities in the state of Texas. It was filed on November 15, 2016, and discussed during the regular session of the eighty-fifth Texas Legislature. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on May 7, 2017.

The law was the subject of several legal challenges, though it remains in effect.


Texas Senate Bill 4 makes it a Class A misdemeanor for local officials as well as public colleges and universities to refuse to work with the federal government on immigration enforcement. The bill also fines those in violation beginning at $1,000 and climbing up to $25,500 if the individual or entity continues to violate the law.[1] Texas Senate Bill 4 also allows police officers to check the immigration status of those they detain if they choose.[1][2]

Bill history[edit]


In Texas, no city had formally declared "sanctuary" status, but a few did not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities and drew a negative response from the legislature.[3] Bills seeking to deprive state funding from police departments and municipalities that do not cooperate with federal authorities had been introduced into the Texas Legislature several times.[3] On February 1, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott blocked funding to Travis County, Texas due to its recently implemented de facto sanctuary city policy.[4][5] The Travis County incident inspired the passage of Texas Senate Bill 4.[1]

Legislative history[edit]

Texas Senate Bill 4 was first introduced into the Texas Legislature on November 15, 2016.[6] It passed the Texas Senate on February 8, 2017, by a vote of 20–10.[7] The bill then went to the Texas House of Representatives, where it passed on April 27, 2017, by a vote of 94–53, with one representative voting "present."[8] Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on May 7, 2017.[9][10]

Legal challenges[edit]

On August 30, 2017, Judge Orlando Luis Garcia of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas blocked certain sections of Senate Bill 4 from going into effect, including the part requiring local officials to honor federal detainers.[11] The State of Texas appealed the ruling and on September 25, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that those provisions could temporarily go into effect as the court heard the arguments over the case.[12] March 13, 2018, the Fifth Circuit again ruled that most of the law, except for a portion punishing officials who "endorse" sanctuary city policies, could go into effect while the case was pending.[13][14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Svitek, Patrick (May 7, 2017). "Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Signs "Sanctuary Cities" Bill into Law". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Mansoor, Sanya; Pollock, Cassandra (May 8, 2017). "Everything You Need to Know About Texas' "Sanctuary Cities" Law". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Doyin Oyeniyi, Does Texas Have Any Sanctuary Cities?, Texas Monthly (February 11, 2016).
  4. ^ "Texas Gov. Abbott Cuts Funding to Austin Over Sanctuary City Policies". Fox News. February 2, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  5. ^ Svitek, Patrick (February 2, 2017). "In "Sanctuary" Fight, Abbott Cuts Off Funding to Travis County". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  6. ^ "SB 4". Texas Legislature. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  7. ^ "Senate Journal – Twelfth Day" (PDF). Texas Senate. February 8, 2017. p. 244. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "House Journal – 58th Day" (PDF). Texas House of Representatives. April 27, 2017. p. 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  9. ^ "Texas Governor Signs Bill Targeting Sanctuary Cities". Fox News. May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Carter, Brandon (May 7, 2017). "Texas Governor Signs Law Banning Sanctuary Cities". The Hill. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  11. ^ Hernandez, Manny (August 30, 2017). "Federal Judge Blocks Texas' Ban on 'Sanctuary Cities'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Aguilar, Julián (September 25, 2017). "Appeals Court Allows More of Texas "Sanctuary Cities" Law to Go into Effect". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  13. ^ Aguilar, Julián (March 13, 2018). "Federal Appeals Court's Ruling Upholds Most of Texas' "Sanctuary Cities" Law". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Barragán, James (March 14, 2018). "Federal Appeals Court Says Texas 'Sanctuary Cities' Law Can Stand for Now". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  15. ^ Dedaj, Paulina (March 13, 2018). "US Appeals Court Upholds Texas Law Targeting Sanctuary Cities". Fox News. Retrieved March 26, 2018.

External links[edit]