A drastic anti-sanctuary city bill received another blow this week when a federal court refused to rule the law as constitutional. The bill which is also known as the Senate Bill 4 (SB4) is aimed at jurisdictions with a sanctuary status for immigrants.
A Draconic Anti-Immigration Law
SB4 wants local law enforcement to investigate random people about their immigration status on whatever circumstances. It also requires that local authorities honor federal detainer requests. An official that refuses to comply would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, face prison time, and an up to $4,000 fine. Extra fines could climb up to $25,500 for each day in office and possible firing.
Critics of the law say that the bill is a “show me your papers” attempt. Arizona tried to introduce a similar bill in 2010 but was opposed. Critics also say that these laws have a huge impact on minority communities, with the Texas bill directly targeting Latinos.
Texas Republicans seem to have anticipated the opposition. Shortly after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the controversial package into law, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took legal action to prevent counter-suits.
Texas Lost the Preemptive Lawsuit
Paxton wanted the bill, which targets sanctuary cities such as Austin, to be declared constitutional. But U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks noted that giving governments a decision before a piece of legislation takes effect would “open a Pandora’s Box.”
While the court didn’t explicitly rule that the bill was unconstitutional, the decision can only encourage opponents.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund hailed the ruling for admitting the state wanted an improper advisory opinion with the preemptive lawsuit. MALDEF noted that the constitutionality of the new law should be determined by the federal court in San Antonio.
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