Texas Anti-Sanctuary Law Is Mostly Upheld by US Appeals Court

Jay Janner  Austin American-Statesman  AP

Jay Janner Austin American-Statesman AP

The appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that a provision of the law that prohibits local governments from "endorsing" a policy contrary to federal immigration laws was unconstitutionally vague.

The law, known as Senate Bill 4, calls for jail for police chiefs, sheriffs and possibly frontline officers who fail to cooperate over US immigration. The Senate bill was enacted in the state of Texas last May.

"The court made clear that we remain free to challenge the manner in which the law is implemented, so we will be monitoring the situation on the ground closely", said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.

Among those challenging the Texas law were several of the state's largest cities and counties - including Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, as well as El Paso County - and a number of advocacy groups.

In August, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia halted several parts of the bill, including the provision that requires jail officials to honor the detainer provision.

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The ruling is largely seen as a victory for Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Republicans who support the legislation. This month, the administration sued California, accusing it of trying to "obstruct the United States' enforcement of federal immigration law".

A separate panel of judges ruled in September that the detainer provision could stand until a final determination was made.

U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones wrote in the court's opinion that the Arizona law - which was partially blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court - was more "problematic" because it mandated the questions during traffic stops.

Texas got permission from a federal appeals court to enforce much, but not all, of its controversial sanctuary-city ban.

"Allegations of discrimination were rejected".

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The ruling was a blow to Texas' biggest cities - including Houston, Dallas and San Antonio - that sued a year ago to prevent enforcement of what opponents said is now the toughest state-level immigration measure on the books in the U.S.

Police chiefs across Texas said the law will create a chilling effect that will cause immigrant families to not report crimes or come forward as witnesses over fears that talking to local police could lead to deportation.

Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the decision, saying in a statement: "Enforcing immigration law prevents the release of individuals from custody who have been charged with serious crimes". It also ruled that law enforcement could not be prevented from assisting federal immigration officers.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

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