Court Says Texas Ban On So-Called Sanctuary Cities Can Stand For Now


On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a ruling regarding Texas's Senate Bill 4, which was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on May 7, 2017.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans allows Texas to enforce what critics call the toughest state-level immigration measure since Arizona passed what critics called a "Show Me Your Papers" law in 2010.

Another piece of the bill, the most controversial and the part that's still on hold, threatens any local official found to have "adopted, enforced or endorsed" policies that limit or prohibit immigration enforcement with removal from office and time in jail.

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. The major cities that were plaintiffs in the suit said they had been abiding by all legal US detainer requests. They said detainers forced state or local police to hold illegal immigrants beyond their usual release time, infringing on their Fourth Amendment rights. It also allows police to ask about immigration status during a lawful detention, such as traffic stops.

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Tuesday's opinion by U.S. Circuit Judge Edith H. Jones rejected the argument that immigration policy should be left to Congress, not the states.

On January 25, President Donald Trump ordered the resumption of the 2008 Secure Communities program that relied on information sharing among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and deport immigrants with criminal records.

Shortly after the ruling, Abbott tweeted that the law is now in effect.

Texas, however, had been a rare bright spot for the Trump administration, with state officials moving to back him up in opposing sanctuaries. The Justice Department recently filed a lawsuit against California, claiming the state is hindering federal enforcement of immigration laws. "Under SB4, local law enforcement has come to terrorize our community - literally making us all less safe".

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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.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, which represents some of the plaintiffs in the SB 4 case, said it was considering how to move forward.

Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said illegal immigrants also still have the right to remain silent when questioned about their immigration status. 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.

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