His investigation has not begun, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says, from what he has learned, San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus did not break the state's new SB-4 ban on Sanctuary Cities law in his handling of an immigrant smuggling case last month, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"If the Feds did not ask for any type of cooperation, even with knowledge of what has happened, there wouldn't be an obligation," Paxton told 1200 WOAI's Joe Pags. But if they had asked for that cooperation and didn't get it, there would be consequences for failing to cooperate."
Paxton is know as a conservative who takes a hard line on illegal immigration.
Several city officials, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg, agree that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was on the scene when the 12 illegal immigrants were found at the arrest of an immigrant smuggler on I-35 near Splashtown on December 23, and were also on the scene when the dozen were taken to the police station for questioning before being released to Catholic Charities.
"The San Antonio Police Department had no legal authority to hold them," Nirenberg said. "San Antonio could have faced legal liability if the police had held them."
And Paxton says that is the key.
He says SB-4 requires that state officials, including police chiefs like McManus, cooperate with federal immigration officers when asked to do so.
"If there was no request by the federal government for cooperation, it would be difficult for federal law enforcement," he said. "What could they really do?"
Jonathan Ryan, the lawyer for the illegal immigrants, says it is also incorrect that the illegal immigrants were released without any vetting or follow up being done."
The stories that have been released, that all of the survivors were released without any knowledge of their whereabouts, have been found to be completely false," Ryan said.
Nirenberg says the city will cooperate with Paxton's investigation, but he is confident the Chief, and the City, will be completely cleared.
"The attacks on Police Chief McManus are nothing more than political theater based on a ficticious narrative," he said.