Lawyers for several Texas communities and groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, told U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia today that SB 4, the new state law banning 'sanctuary cities' is unconstitutionally vague, illegally permits racial profiling, and improperly introduces on the prerogatives of the federal government, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The main argument is that, just as states cannot declare war or dispatch ambassadors, the states cannot establish a patchwork of differing ways to enforce immigration law, and that's what SB 4 would do.
But at the end of the day, the lawyers argued "it is all going to come down to the way he talks, the way she dresses, and the color of a person's skin."
Lawyers pounded away at two specific provisions of SB 4...that it allows police officers to question people who are detained about their immigration status, and the fact that it includes stiff penalties against police chiefs and sheriffs who don't fully cooperate with federal immigration officials, something lawyers say would 'lead to an immigration police state,' because officials will be 'incentivized' to order officers to enforce federal immigration law out of fear of being fined or jailed.
"Texas is incentivizing officers to enforce immigration law," the ACLU attorney told Judge Garcia.
SB 4, which was a priority of Governor Abbott, seeks to outlaw 'Sanctuary Cities,' which are defined as cities where illegal immigrants are protected by local law.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the plaza in front of the John Wood federal courthouse to shout down the law. One of them was Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.
"I am here because I believe that our residents and citizens should be able to live without fear. When there is fear, the society becomes duynsfunctional. I have seen the cry of the people, the people crying out of their pain and their misery in the way they are treated with this kind of law. It is human dignity, human dignity is at the heart. As a man of faith, I cannot not be with them and for them. Jesus taught us to love one another. A law like SB4 in any way does not convey compassion mercy, unity, and love, and a sense of belonging to the human race. It is opposed to what we are as people," the Archbishop said.
The crowd was rowdy but peaceful, although one man, wearing a TRUMP 2020' T-shirt had to be removed by federal marshals for his own protection after the crowd started yelling at him, and calling him a 'racist.'
"I support people coming to the U.S. legally and seeking a legal path to citizenship," said the man, who identified himself only as 'Citizen Taxpayer.' He said he was surprised that more people who support SB 4 didn't show up.