Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) June 16, 2017 – Cities and counties in Texas are planning legal action against a new state law, Senate Bill 4 (SB4), banning sanctuary cities.
“Texas SB4 faces a slew of legal challenges, some filed and others being developed,” said Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas immigration attorney with the law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “Regardless of what courts may later do, the impact of SB4 on the undocumented immigrant communities throughout Texas is already being felt. Individuals fear reporting crimes and see little benefit in volunteering to testify. The same individuals also fear racial profiling by police who can ask about immigration status for anyone detained.”
Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 on May 7, and the controversial measure is scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2017. The bill bans counties, cities and universities from directing their law enforcement officers not to enforce immigration law or ask about immigration status. County sheriffs and police chiefs who violate the ban could face criminal charges, and local jurisdictions could be fined up to $25,000 per day for violating the law. In addition, the legislation allows police officers to inquire about an individual’s immigration status during any legal detention, even a routine traffic stop.
Attorney General Ken Paxton made the first legal move soon after Gov. Abbott signed the bill into law. Paxton filed a complaint for declaratory judgment asking the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to declare that the law is constitutional and is not preempted by federal law. Travis County was named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Earlier this year, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced that her office would decrease its cooperation with immigration authorities.
Leaders of Texas’ largest cities have vowed to oppose SB4 in the courts. Elected representatives from Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio gathered in front of the state capitol May 16 to call for a “summer of resistance” against the law. On Mother’s Day, hundreds of protesters marched from City Hall to the Governor’s Mansion in opposition to SB4.
Proponents of SB4 say that the measure will crack down on lawbreakers and assist law enforcement in keeping the public safe. Opponents say the legislation would subject people to racial profiling. Some police chiefs have warned that the measure could make immigrants less likely to report crimes, thus endangering public safety.
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