Published: Tue, September 26, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Texas can implement key provision of "sanctuary cities" law

Texas can implement key provision of

A federal appeals panel on Monday said part of Texas' law banning sanctuary city policies may going into effect while the court awaits arguments scheduled for November.

Wice filed a writ last week arguing the Fifth Court of Appeals decision could have a chilling effect throughout the Texas judicial system by eliminating the discretion judges have to pay appointed lawyers more for handling cases with special circumstances.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Texas law enforcement agencies must comply with federal detainers for undocumented immigrants, part of Senate Bill 4. They also say it illegally puts local police in the federal role of immigration enforcement officers, and is unconstitutionally vague as to exactly when a local law enforcement officer would be in violation of the law.

Today's ruling by the court in New Orleans reversed, in part, an injunction against the law.

"Local jurisdictions remain free to decline requests they believe could violate constitutional rights or other laws", said the nonprofit Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

LawNewz reached out to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for clarification on this issues, but a reply was not forthcoming at the time of publication.

"Enforcing immigration law helps prevent unsafe criminals from being released into Texas communities", he said in a statement.

Senate Bill 4 forbids local governments from using so-called sanctuary policies to limit the cooperation between local law enforcement officers and federal immigration authorities.

Texas Republican leaders have not identified any sanctuary cities in the state. The Travis County Sheriff's Office will now honor all such requests from ICE, known as "detainers", spokeswoman Kristen Dark said.

The City of Austin was one of a handful of major Texas cities that sued to stop SB 4, which would require law enforcement officials to comply with all immigration detainer requests and penalize jurisdictions and elected officials who did not.

"We're cautiously optimistic that the Court will ultimately conclude that the Fifth Court's unwarranted decision to scuttle the fee schedules of over two-thirds of all Texas counties was a clear abuse of discretion", he in a statement.

"The Fifth Circuit's ruling today allows for unsafe portions of SB 4 to go into effect", he said, "but it also allows local governments, like Austin, to take reasonable steps to ensure that our policing resources are not misdirected from our public safety needs and toward Trump's deportation machine".

During his State of the State address in January, Gov. Greg Abbott said that SB 4 was necessary to "protect Texans from deadly danger", and he fast-tracked the bill. Butterworth said the New Orleans Police Department's policy is to not ask any individual their immigration status, in order to allow everyone to feel they have the right to report a crime, and be protected by officers of the law.

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