San Antonio and several legal groups are suing Texas and state government officials for alleged violations of federal immigration law, demanding that Texas Senate Bill 4 be declared unconstitutional and that the state provide for whatever relief the federal court allows.
Texas Senate Bill 4, now a recently-signed law, fines and even threatens to remove sheriffs, public officials, and other local government authorities who don’t comply with federal immigration crackdown efforts.
The City of San Antonio and Council member Rey Saldan have teamed up with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), La Union Del Pueblo Entero, the Workers Defense Project, and the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education in filing the complaint against the state.
The lawsuit, filed on June 1, 2017, names the state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott, and Attorney General Ken Paxton as its defendants. According to the plaintiffs, the implementation of SB-4 places limits on the enforcement of federal immigration laws—a viable justification for its repeal.
In the lawsuit, MALDEF outlines multiple grounds in justifying the unconstitutionality of SB-4 and its effect in hindering ethical law enforcement. It also emphasizes how the law would result in largely prejudicial, discriminatory, and inconsistent law enforcement as the authority to define the operation of immigration checks would be transferred from cities, sheriffs, and police chiefs to individual officers.
Under SB-4, each officer would be left with the individual choice as to how to and whether they should carry out their immigration-related duties. San Antonio officials fear SB-4 would lead to the racial profiling of Latinos and other immigrant minorities, discriminatory stops and interrogation of immigrants, and other violations of the equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.
“SB4 is discriminatory given the unfettered nature to which it requires enforcement of immigration laws [and] local participation in that,” said San Antonio Council member Andrew Segovia.
He predicts the law will “inevitably lead to targeting of minorities.”
The law is also expected to indirectly impact San Antonio and other cities with a high concentration of immigrant communities, requiring them to enforce federal immigration laws despite the Supreme Court explicitly ruling against local governments assuming that role.
“It’s disgraceful that in this day and age we still have to fight hateful and misguided legislation like this in court, especially when so many similar attempts have failed across the country,” said Marisa Bono, MALDEF’s southwest regional counsel, in a phone interview with the press.
Texas GOP Rep. Matt Rinaldi, who claimed to have called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Capitol protesters, sparking an ugly altercation with Latino lawmakers, was also named in the lawsuit, which states: “Rep. Rinaldi’s statement implies an assumption that all of the members in the gallery were undocumented because they appeared to be ‘Latino.”
This lawsuit is not the first mobilization against SB-4 and may not be the last.
“I expect more cities and counties will follow,” said Austin City Council member Gregorio Casar.
For more news and updates on SB-4, be sure to follow this blog. If you, or a loved one, are concerned about what SB-4 means and how it will affect your rights, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more about how Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle can help you.