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ACLU files motion to block state's sanctuary cities law

27 June 2017
ACLU files motion to block state's sanctuary cities law

A federal court will begin hearing arguments Monday in a lawsuit aimed at challenging Texas's recently passed "sanctuary cities" law.

After Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill, officials from the city of El Cenizo, Maverick County and the League of United Latin American Citizens filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the new law. Under the law, local law-enforcement officials can face criminal penalties if they don't comply with requests from federal authorities to detain suspected illegal immigrants until they can be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

The hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio will be before Judge Orlando Garcia.

In an accompanying statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions applauded the bill and said it concurred with President Trump's views on immigration.

The legal fight pits border towns and big cities against the Republican-controlled state government.

"Especially in light of the federal governments representation of probable cause, there is no 4th amendment violation when states and localities honor ICE detainers", said Marc Rylander, Communications Director with the Texas attorney general's office.

The full-day hearing came after a flurry of filings late last week and the addition of new plaintiffs seeking to stop the law from going into effect on September 1.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending a new Texas law created to crack down on sanctuary cities, the Washington Examiner reports.

The law will also permit police and sheriff's departments to inquire about the immigration status of those they stop during routine business.

Supporters have said immigrants who do not break the law have nothing to fear.

Perry said Trump administration Justice Department's role in Monday's court hearing shows the state law "is not about taking on the federal immigration role, but only to partner with them to keep those who commit unsafe crimes off the streets".

Austin joined the suit, which was originally filed last month by the City of San Antonio, on June 2.

The Justice Department is helping Texas defend the law.

Houston City Council this week voted to join in a lawsuit with the Texas cities of El Paso, San Antonio and Austin opposing the new law, known as House Bill 4 (HB4).

The law prevents cities, counties and universities from prohibiting their law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status. In Houston, which sought to join the El Cenizo lawsuit Friday, police noted a sharp decline in reports by Hispanics of sexual assault and violent crime in the first three months of 2017, compared to the same period past year.

Opponents of SB4 are optimistic that Garcia will issue an injunction, given his previous ruling in a case involving federal immigration detention requests.