Federal judge considers fate of Texas 'sanctuary cities' law

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon  KUT

Sessions said: "The Department of Justice fully supports Texas's 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". Democratic state Rep. Ana Hernandez, who did not become a USA citizen until she was 18 years old, wiped away tears on the witness stand as she recalled Republican colleagues referring to people who are not citizens as "illegals" during debate over SB4.

"I really feel like this is the civil rights issue of our generation", said Delia Garza, the first Latina member of the Austin City Council, as organizers flooded to San Antonio on Sunday to prepare for the hearing.

Busloads of demonstrators from across Texas rallied outside, wearing red T-shirts and carrying signs denouncing the law.

"Upholding the law would send a awful signal to other states that they can enact similar or even more draconian laws", said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who will argue the case Monday. The law also allows state and local law enforcement to ask about the immigration status of individuals they have arrested or detained.

"Enforcing immigration law helps prevent unsafe criminals from being released into our communities", Paxton said.

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.




Texas' largest cities are part of the lawsuit opposing the law, including Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. And because the federal government alone is charged with crafting immigration policy, the state of Texas can't create its own, or dole out criminal penalties for refusing to follow a state policy, critics argue.

The Texas law is set to take effect on September 1.

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

SB4 requires local law enforcement to comply with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, which are requests to hold someone in jail while their immigration status is investigated.

The Department of Justice on Friday sided with Texas in the lawsuit against its recently passed sanctuary cities ban, lending significant if unsurprising support to boosters of the law. That order has been temporarily blocked in federal court in San Francisco.

"There's a fear of being racially profiled", said Maldonado, director of League of United Latin American Citizens District 8, which covers 27 Texas counties encompassing over 100,000 citizens.

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