Judge Blocks Texas from Enforcing Parts of Immigrant “Harboring” Law


Texas’s omnibus border security bill is highly controversial because it makes the harboring of undocumented immigrants a crime in the Lone Star State.

However, a federal judge recently blocked an important part of the legislation in the anti-smuggling provision, stating the “immigrant harboring laws” contained in it were too broad in scope.

ICE police arresting someone

ICE agents make an arrest

The Dallas Morning News reported last month on how David Alan Ezra of San Antonio, a U.S. District Judge, blocked this key tenet of the bill.

The judge ordered a preliminary injunction over the measure. He heard the case after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of two aid groups and two landlords, claiming the state had overstepped its powers and risked making criminals of compassionate Texans.

Texas lawmakers said the bill was intended to counter human smuggling of undocumented immigrants.

Its opponents say they are playing politics. Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of MALDEF, issued a press release in January stating the legislation would do nothing but “embroil Texas in litigation and … divide the state in the name of political gamesmanship.”

The lawsuit brought by MALDEF focused on a couple of landlords – one of them in Farmers Branch – who do not require their tenants to provide documentation related to their immigration status before offering them tenancies. The aid group gives legal services and shelter to undocumented immigrants.

Although we appreciate the urgent need for immigration reform, this is not the kind of legislation that is helpful.

Millions of immigrants want to play a positive part in the economy of Texas but are living in the shadows because they are undocumented and fear deportation. You can read more about immigration reform here on our website.

The ruling has left the controversial immigrant harboring laws in the balance. Judge Ezra also said the plaintiffs in the case are likely to prevail on the Supremacy Clause claim.

The lawsuit claims the harboring provision violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because enforcement of immigration is a federal responsibility. His ruling stated officials at a local and state level lack the authority to enforce the contentious provision until a final decision is reached. The timeline for the case had not been resolved as of last month, according to media reports.

If you have further questions about any aspect of immigration law or would like to consult with a lawyer about issues such as deportation, visas or citizenship, please contact the Peek Law Group . Our experienced Austin immigration attorneys would welcome the opportunity to assist you with your issue and to answer all of your questions. Complete the contact form on our website, or call us at  (512) 399-2311 for a consultation in English or Spanish.

Share To: