US court hears challenge on Texas law to punish 'sanctuary cities'

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"Parties may disagree with the state legislature's policy determinations in enacting SB 4, but nothing in federal immigration law precludes a state from directing law enforcement officers in the state to cooperate with the federal government, rather than merely permitting them to do so on an ad hoc basis".

The department filed a statement of interest on Friday with the federal district court in San Antonio that is handling the suit, indicating that it will be involved in the lawsuit going forward. It calls for jail time for police chiefs and sheriffs who fail to cooperate in US immigration enforcement. Several groups including the Texas Organizing Project, Workers Defense Project and ACLU of Texas plan to rally and protest outside the courthouse starting at 8:30 a.m.

"There's also the fear of getting involved. that people may not want to cooperate (with police) for fear of being selected to show their (immigration) documents", he said.

The four Texas cities - all of which are among the top 15 in the nation in population - accuse the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature of passing a law that is unconstitutional, vague and would have a chilling effect on immigrant communities.

"We are united in seeking a temporary injunction on a law that would divide our community, divide communities across the state of Texas", Nirenberg said.

Numerous Texas cities, including Austin, have sued the state in an attempt to block the implementation of SB 4, which is set to take effect on September 1.

The four largest cities in Texas - San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Dallas- are suing to block the measure and their attorneys told Garcia that his ruling could determine if other states to pursue copycat measures.


Garcia is unlikely to rule immediately.

Civil rights advocate Al Maldonado said the new law encourages stereotyping and racial profiling of innocent people of color by Texas law-enforcement officers.

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement "only issues detainers when there is probable cause on the face of the detainer to arrest an individual on the basis that he is a removable alien, and the detainer is accompanied by an administrative warrant", the filing states.

The federal government has officially thrown its support behind Texas' so-called sanctuary cities ban. That order has been temporarily blocked in federal court in San Francisco.

"This is a very important and significant case, not only for Texas but also for the entire country", he said.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has moved its 2018 conference from Grapevine, Tex., to San Francisco because of the law.

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