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Texas Ban on Sanctuary Cities Goes Forward

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 27, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There's a shootout in Texas over sanctuary cities, and right now the new sheriff and his deputy are winning.

That sheriff would be U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and his Texas deputy would be state Attorney General Ken Paxton. Since President Trump took office, Sessions has been gunning for cities that refuse to cooperate with the President's new immigration policies.

The Texas legislature got behind Sessions and passed a law that penalizes the so-called sanctuary cities for non-compliance. A federal appeals court said, more or less, "that's pretty much the law, pardner."

Sanctuary Ban

Texas Senate Bill 4 punishes sanctuary cities that prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities' efforts to curb illegal immigration. The bill requires police to comply with detainer requests from immigration officers for possible deportations.

The law also authorizes local law enforcement to question the immigration status of anyone, including people who are stopped for minor traffic violations. Non-complaint local officials face up to a year in jail and fines of up to $25,000 a day.

A federal judge had granted a preliminary injunction against the law, concluding that it was probably unconstitutional. However, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals substantially stayed that order while the courts further consider the bill's constitutionality.

'Comply With, Honor and Fulfill'

In City of El Cenizo v. State of Texas, the appeals court said the state may enforce key parts of the bill. The state acknowledged, and the court confirmed, that some definitions must be clarified.

However, the justices said local law enforcement shall "comply with, honor, and fulfill" any immigration detainer by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We are pleased today's 5th Circuit ruling will allow Texas to strengthen public safety by implementing the key components of Senate Bill 4," Paxton said. "Enforcing immigration law helps prevent dangerous criminals from being released into Texas communities."

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