Attorneys and immigrant rights groups that came together to resist the implementation of Texas Senate Bill 4 penalizing so-called sanctuary cities claim the fight is far from over despite a federal court ruling in favor of the state legislation. Three judges at the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals formed a panel that ruled on Tuesday to allow most provisions of SB4 to go into effect while legal challenges against it continue.
The state law is one of the country’s most controversial immigration policies in recent years, coming at a time when the federal government has vowed intensified operations against undocumented immigrants and even legal immigration.
- SB4s allows local law enforcement officers, including sheriffs and campus police, to inquire on the immigration status of any individual in their custody.
- SB4 also requires local governments to comply with detainer requests from federal immigration agencies, keeping immigrants with no criminal charges in detention while they wait for federal processing.
To ensure these policies go into effect, SB4 imposes heavy fines and even jail time on police officers, local government officials, and even elected officials who refuse to cooperate.
While the most crucial provisions of SB4 are now in effect, the coalition against SB4 continues to challenge the law in court. At present, they are considering seeking a hearing on the matter before the 5th Circuit. According to Efren Olivares, Racial and Economic Justice Director for Texas Civil Rights Project, his group is working to request an en banc hearing, given how SB4 will impact the lives of various groups, thus meriting further action.
He added that taking this case to the Supreme Court is another option his group has mulled over.
The attorneys representing the coalition were not surprised by the 5th Circuit’s decision, noting the conservative leanings of the appellate court. Still, the group is confident in their ability to prove to the court that while the law may be constitutional in substance, its implementation leads to inevitably unconstitutional practices.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton promptly published a statement celebrating the ruling, writing:“I’m pleased the 5th Circuit recognized that Senate Bill 4 is lawful, constitutional, and protects the safety of law enforcement officers and all Texans. Enforcing immigration law prevents the release of individuals from custody who have been charged with serious crimes.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott also chimed in on the matter, tweeting the message: “Texas Ban on Sanctuary City Policies upheld by Federal Court of Appeals. Allegations of Discrimination. Allegations of discrimination were rejected. Law is in effect.”
For further updates on SB4, be sure to follow this blog. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of questionable detention because of your immigration status, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices to speak with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.