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Orlando Luis Garcia, Federal judge who blocked Texas sanctuary cities law: Photos

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There is finally some relief for illegal immigrants as a federal judge has temporarily blocked most provisions of Texas’ tough new “sanctuary cities” law. Had the justice not taken the decision, it would have allowed police officers to ask people about their nationality.

Under sanctuary cities law, police officials are given wide-ranging powers to deal with aliens, including random questions from anyone and everyone. They are empowered, even in the course of routine stops to ask people if they are in the US legally.

They are also empowered to see their details substantiating their claims of having US nationality. The law had also threatened sheriffs’ with jail terms if they do not cooperate with federal immigration officials.

In United States, a sanctuary city is a city that reduces its assistance with federal government to enforce immigration law. Officials in such cities claim that they do this in order to want to minimize the fear of deportation and possible family break-up among people who are in the country illegally so that such people will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school. Municipal policies include prohibiting police or city employees from questioning people about their immigration status and refusing requests by federal immigration authorities to detain people beyond their release date, if they were jailed for breaking local law.

The development is significant as it will prompt more cities to seek similar redressal. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio was handed down as anxieties about immigration enforcement in Texas have again flared in the wake of Harvey. Houston officials have sought to assure families fleeing the rising floodwaters in the nation’s fourth-largest city that shelters would not ask for their immigration status.

It is needless to say that this has cheered the law’s critics. Houston police Chief Art Acevedo, an outspoken critic of the law, got word of the decision while standing inside a downtown convention center where about 10,000 people have sought shelter. “We needed a break. That’s a break for us,” said Acevedo, whose department has conducted thousands of high-water rescues and lost one officer who died in floodwaters as he tried to drive to work.

In his 94-page ruling, the judge said that when it was being considered in public legislative hearings, only eight people testified in favor of it while 1,600 “showed up to oppose it.” He further said that there “is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe…localities will suffer adverse economic consequences which, in turn, will harm the state of Texas.”

The 65-year old judge whose full name is Orlando Luis Garcia is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 1978. He was in private practice in San Antonio, Texas from 1978 to 1990, and a Texas state representative from 1983 to 1991.

It was in the year 19993, when he was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat which had been vacated by Emilio M. Garza over two years before. Garcia was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 10, 1994, and received his commission on March 11, 1994. He became Chief Judge on January 1, 2016.

Garcia, Orlando Luis
Born 1952 in Jim Wells County, TX

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
Nominated by William J. Clinton on November 19, 1993, to a seat vacated by Emilio M. Garza. Confirmed by the Senate on March 10, 1994, and received commission on March 11, 1994. Served as chief judge, 2016-present.

University of Texas, B.A., 1975
University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1978

Professional Career:
Private practice, San Antonio, Texas, 1978-1990
State representative, Texas, 1983-1991
Justice, Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas, 1991-1992

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