Court’s ruling on SB4 demands even more resistance from Austin and Travis County leaders

September 25, 2017

(AUSTIN, Texas) — The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today released a preliminary ruling on SB4, a law that seeks to further terrorize immigrant communities in Texas.

"We won’t wait for the courts to tell us what we all know to be true: SB4 is nothing but an attack on immigrant communities. SB4 was never about public safety or good policy. The extremism of the law, like the ridiculous provision to limit local officials free speech rights, is proof of that. We do believe that in the end, the courts will rule on all the provisions of SB4 for what they are  — racist, unconstitutional, and illegal, but we won’t allow the courts or bills like SB4 to determine how we protect ourselves through local measures as an organized community,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez instituted a policy in February limiting cooperation with ICE detainers early this year and it is an excellent place to start. Nothing in today’s ruling bars Travis County from continuing to decline immigration detainers which have been found to be unconstitutional in courts across the country. Grassroots Leadership and our partners have always maintained that Sheriff Hernandez’ policy, like any policing and jail policy, should be true to the Constitution, not to Governor Abbott and his racist agenda.

But a recent tragedy shows how having a sound detainer policy in the jail is not enough as long as Austin Police and other city and county officials lack similarly good policies.

Juan Coronilla-Guerrero was found murdered in Mexico earlier this month after being deported from Austin. The event that started the road to his death was an arrest by an Austin Police Department officer who did not speak Spanish and arrested Coronilla-Guerrero, according to advocates who are in contact with his family.   Because of his arrest, ICE picked him up at a Travis County courthouse as he was attempting to dispose of his criminal case.

“Without strong policies in place everywhere, at every level, there will always be holes that ICE can use to attack our community,” said Muñoz. “As ICE, Greg Abbott, and Ken Paxton create a unified front in their war against immigrants, our local leaders must unite with the community to create a strong wall of resistance.”

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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.


Cristina Parker,, 512-499-8111