Sanctuary cities lawsuit heads to court


AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday morning, the battle over Senate Bill 4, the sanctuary cities bill now signed into law, begins as Austin, Dallas, Houston, El Paso County and several other organizations will challenge Gov. Greg Abbott’s immigration enforcement legislation.

The law, set to begin on Sept. 1, requires local government and law enforcement to hold alleged criminals here illegally for Federal officials to deport.

Gov. Abbott said the law is about safety and would stand up in court.

In January, Travis County Sheriff Hernandez prohibited deputies and jailers from asking about someone’s immigration status and limited how they will work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, causing a major kerfuffle among Republican politicians. Gov. Abbott even cut $1.5 million in state grants to Travis County due to the sheriff’s new ICE policy. She later said she would follow any law that passed.

Mayor Steve Adler has said that Austin finds SB4 to be unconstitutional under the first and fourth amendments as well as the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He also stated that the law violates established Texas law. The suit is seeking a temporary injunction against the law.

On Friday, the United States Department of Justice sided with Texas ahead of the hearing, arguing that SB 4 “is not preempted by the Supremacy Clause, it is not inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment, and it does not violate the Fourth Amendment.”

“President Trump has made a commitment to keep America safe and to ensure cooperation with federal immigration laws,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Texas has admirably followed his lead by mandating state-wide cooperation with federal immigration laws that require the removal of illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”

The Austin City Council first voted to authorize the lawsuit against the ban on May 18 in a 10-to-1 vote. Council Member Ellen Troxclair was the lone vote against the measure.

The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the John H. Wood Jr. federal courthouse in San Antonio in U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s court. 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.

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