Focus at Four: Texas' new immigration law goes to court

Lydia Fleming
June 27, 2017

AUSTIN - President Donald Trump's administration on Friday sided with Texas in the lawsuit against the state's new sanctuary cities law.

On Monday, a Texas border town and some of the state's biggest cities will ask a USA federal judge to halt the state law known as Senate Bill 4, arguing it is unconstitutional, violates human rights and illegally diverts police resources from fighting local crime to enforcing US immigration law. The measure lets police ask people about immigration status during routine stops. And in March, the Justice Department released a list of local law enforcement offices that had declined federal detainer requests to hold undocumented immigrants. The ruling appeared to strike a major blow against SB 4, which aims to force local jurisdictions to honor all such requests from ICE.

Several federal judges have ruled in recent years that holding someone on an ICE detainer in a local jail if they would otherwise be allowed to go free violates the Fourth Amendment's guarantees against illegal search and seizure.

During the hearing, Judge Garcia asked whether an officer could ask all passengers in a vehicle about their immigration status and if local police could make their own immigration sweeps.

The bill's author, Republican state Sen.

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Although buoyed by that decision, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the new case say the issues involving the Texas law are broader. "They're setting up a system that incentivizes people to enforce immigration law to the maximum".

Austin joined the suit, which was originally filed last month by the City of San Antonio, on June 2.

Houston, the state's largest city, has said it also supports the lawsuit.

José Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Project, said SB 4 critics stood together at a May rally at the state capitol and called for "a summer of resistance".

Sanctuary cities say aiding immigration agents deters immigrants from reporting crime and could lead to racial profiling and the deportations for minor offenses. "Finally, we are in a forum where facts and law carry the day".

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After gathering at the courthouse, the protesters marched to the nearby Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Judge Orlando Garcia will preside over the San Antonio hearings and will decide whether a temporary injunction will be granted to stall the new law.

Garcia is not expected to issue a ruling immediately.

"The Department of Justice fully supports Texas' effort and is participating in this lawsuit because of the strong federal interest in facilitating the state and local cooperation that is critical in enforcing our nation's immigration laws", Sessions said.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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