March 23, 2018

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Most of Texas' Sanctuary Cities Law

14 March 2018, 10:27 | Winifred Adams

US appeals court upholds Texas law targeting sanctuary cities

Gov. Greg Abbott R-Texas quickly took to Twitter to announce that the “law is in effect” and that “allegations of discrimination were rejected.”

Appointed and elected officials, meanwhile, could be removed from office.

It was a three judge panel from the United States Fifth Court of Appeals who upheld the ruling which was reversed in August from a federal judge in San Antonio who temporarily blocked officials from enforcing the ban on sanctuary cities. The White House has been blocked by judges elsewhere in the country from taking away federal funding from cities that shelter undocumented immigrants, whom President Donald Trump has characterized as interlopers that take jobs and social services that rightfully belong to us citizens.

Many believe that with the ruling, Texas has the toughest state level immigration measure in the U.S.

Immigrant-rights advocates and a number of Texas cities had objected. "Today's ruling is one step in what is likely a long legal battle, and I remain hopeful that this law will eventually be ruled unconstitutional by the courts".

The bill, which is the subject of a legal challenge from the cities of Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, among others, allows local law enforcement officers in Texas to question the legal status of anyone they detain or arrest and threatens to punish any local government entity or official who doesn't cooperate with detention orders issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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But Judge Edith H. Jones, writing the court's opinion, said it's not clear illegal immigrants are covered by the Fourth Amendment.

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.

"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. Critics complain this so-called "show me your papers" provision will lead to racial profiling of US citizens and law-abiding immigrants.

In Texas, the fight over a "Sanctuary cities" bill has raged for more than a year, roiling the Republican-controlled Legislature and once provoking a near-fistfight between lawmakers in the state capitol. At Nov. 7 oral arguments, the judges told lawyers they were concerned the harsh penalties could chill individuals' constitutional right to speak out personally against the ban. Sessions admonished California politicians for not cooperating with federal authorities on immigration enforcement issues.

After Tuesday's ruling was announced, Abbott updated his followers on Twitter, highlighting that claims the bill would lead to racial profiling were rejected.

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