A Texas immigration crackdown on “sanctuary cities” took effect yesterday after a federal appeals court upheld a divisive law backed by the Trump administration that threatens elected officials with jail time and allows police officers to ask people during routine stops whether they’re in the U.S. illegally.
MySanAntonio The ruling was a blow to Texas’ biggest cities —including Houston, Dallas and San Antonio — that sued last year to prevent enforcement of what opponents said is now the toughest state-level immigration measure on the books in the U.S.
But for the Trump administration, the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is a victory against measures seen as protecting immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued California over its so-called sanctuary state law.
In Texas, the fight over a new law known as Senate Bill 4 has raged for more than a year, roiling the Republican-controlled Legislature and once provoking a near-fistfight between lawmakers in the state capitol. It set off racially-charged debates, backlash from big-city police chiefs and rebuke from the government in Mexico, which is Texas’ largest trading partner and shares close ties to the state.
“Allegations of discrimination were rejected. Law is in effect,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted after the ruling was published.
A major focal point of the Texas law is the requirement for local authorities to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, or risk jail time if they don’t. Police chiefs, sheriffs and constables could also face removal from office for failing to comply with such federal “detainer” requests.
AG Jeff Sessions has blamed sanctuary city policies for crime and gang violence, and announced in July that cities and states could only receive certain grants if they cooperate with immigration agents. Sessions is now targeting California, which passed sanctuary laws in response to the president’s promises to ramp up the deportation of people in the U.S. illegally.