Court Rules that Texas Can Enforce More of ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Law

A federal appeals court ruled Mondat that Texas can require law enforcement to honor federal immigration requests to detain people in local jails for possible deportation under a new “sanctuary cities” law supported by the Trump administration, Newsmax reports citing The Associated Press.

The decision prompted one notable critic of the immigration crackdown, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, to announce that her Austin jails would now honor all detainers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The elected Democrat had become a polarizing figure after announcing on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration that the county’s jails would no longer comply with all such requests.

Regarding the court’s decision, some lawyers said they believed the decision did not demand total compliance with federal agents, while other local officials struggled to interpret the ramifications. Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed it as a clear victory allowing the state to “enforce the core” of the law known at Senate Bill 4.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling undermines some of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s August 31 halt to much of the law one day before it was to go into effect. The decision lets Texas enforce the detainer provision, pending fuller oral arguments in November. Big cities such as Houston, Dallas and Austin had sued the state, saying the measure was unconstitutional and warning that it would have a chilling effect in immigrant communities.

The Republican push to pass the law roiled the Texas Legislature throughout the spring. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has praised the Texas law and the Department of Justice filed arguments in support of it, as did several attorneys general from other states. The opponents to the legislation argue it violates the Fourth Amendment by requiring police to detain people suspected of illegal immigration without probable cause. They also say it illegally puts local police in the federal role of immigration enforcement officers, and is unconstitutionally vague as to exactly when a local law enforcement officer would be in violation of the law.

Supporters of the state law say immigration officials have already determined probable cause when they seek to have local officials detain someone. They also argue that federal and local officials have a long history of cooperation on immigration matters and that the law is clear in its prohibition against local policies restricting immigration enforcement, The Associated Press writes.

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