U.S. appeals court upholds Texas law targeting sanctuary cities

Nellie Chapman
March 14, 2018

Lawmakers and activists slammed a federal appeals court ruling allowing a hardline anti-immigration law to take effect in Texas.

A panel of three US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled Tuesday that most of the state's immigration enforcement legislation, Senate Bill 4, can remain in effect while the case plays out, handing a victory to Gov. A provision that would have made local officials subject to fines, jail time or even removal from office for "endorsing" policies that impede enforcement of immigration laws remains under injunction for the time being while the case remains in court.

The law, known as Senate Bill 4, calls for jail for police chiefs, sheriffs and possibly frontline officers who fail to cooperate over US immigration. "Unsafe criminals shouldn't be allowed back into our communities to possibly commit more crimes", Paxton said.

So-called sanctuary cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

"I'm pleased the 5th Circuit recognized that Senate Bill 4 is lawful, constitutional and protects the safety of law enforcement officers and all Texans", Paxton said after the ruling.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, a bullseye for legislators targeting sanctuary cities due to her previous limited cooperation with ICE, said in a statement in a statement: "Words just can't express how disappointed I am with this ruling". The Senate bill was enacted in the state of Texas last May.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), chairman for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House, also argued the legislation would immediately harm families.

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State Sen. Jose Menendez dismissed the law as "unnecessary and politically motivated" adding it was opposed by "virtually everyone in law enforcement". SB 4 allows law enforcement to question the immigration status of people who have been detained or are under arrest.

"W$3 e need to respond and act, within the law, to preserve as much of that trust as possible", Adler said.

"The foregoing discussion demonstrates there is no merit in their [plaintiff's] remaining arguments, and none of the other challenged provisions of SB4 facially violate the Constitution", the court document said on Tuesday.

Texas's law - which goes several steps further than Trump's plan to withhold federal funding from cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration policies - was rammed through the Republican-controlled legislature in May despite loud protests by minority-rights groups, law enforcement officials, students and immigrants. "Law is in effect", he wrote.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was more effusive in his statement that praised what he termed a "common-sense measure that bans sanctuary cities in Texas".

The 5th Circuit a year ago quickly stayed much of Judge Garcia's blockade, and Tuesday's ruling was an even bigger spanking for the Clinton-appointed Judge Garcia.

"We are exploring all legal options going forward. The court made clear that we remain free to challenge the manner in which the law is implemented, so we will be monitoring the situation on the ground closely", he said.

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