After months of protests, street demonstrations, and lawsuits, a federal judge in San Antonio today will consider whether the ban on 'Sanctuary Cities' approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, is legal, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will hear arguments from Nina Perales, the Vice President of Litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who will be lead counsel for the cities and counties which have sued to block the law, that it amounts to illegal racial profiling
"What this will do is cause people to no longer call the police because they won't want to report crimes, and that is in the judgement of local law enforcement officers," she said.
At issue is what opponents of the bill, which is technically called SB 4, call the 'show me your papers' clause. It allows police to inquire about the immigration status of people who are 'detained,' which can mean people who are pulled over for speeding.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is a major supporter of SB4 and declared it a priority in the recent session of the Legislature, says comments like that are a 'big lie.' He says the law allows, but does not require, police officers to ask about a person's immigration status, and he says it prevents police from asking people who are victims and witnesses from being asked about whether they are in the U.S. illegally, specifically preventing the sorts of abuses Perales is concerned about.
He says while Latino pressure groups may oppose the bill, rank and file Latinos support it.
"They want law and order where they live, they want law and order on the border. They want legal immigration, they don't want racist rhetoric."
The Trump Administration on Friday entered the case on the side of the State of Texas, arguing that it is not unconstitutional for one branch of government to help another, in the interest of the safety of all of the citizens.
The law also threatens police chiefs, sheriffs, and other local officials with jail time for refusing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, especially when honoring ICE 'detainers,' which are requests to hold a person in jail so ICE can pick them up and process them for deportation
.Judge Garcia recently ordered that some ICE detainers do not follow due process requirements, and cited the case of a man who was held in the Bexar County Jail for 76 days after charges against him were dropped, saying no person should be held for more than two months in custody while not facing any criminal charges.
Since the state law does not take effect until September 1, no decision from Judge Garcia is expected today.