Federal Court Rules Texas must Cooperate with Immigration Authorities

(ESPAÑOL) The state of Texas has taken the position against sanctuary cities and codified a requirement for cooperating with immigration authorities.

Texas’s tough new sanctuary-city law was debated in federal court today, with lawyers for several Texas cities calling it draconian and unconstitutional and attorneys representing the state and the Trump administration saying it makes sense to compel jurisdictions to work with federal immigration agents.

Led by the small border city of El Cenizo, the plaintiffs urged U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia to halt the law before it takes effect Sept. 1, saying it violates the Constitution, could hammer the state economically and illegally targets Latinos. One lawyer called the law a “constitutional train wreck.”

But lawyers for Texas and the Justice Department rejected those arguments and said the state has the right to create a uniform immigration policy instead of a hodgepodge of standards that can vary by town.

Now the state has one policy: Cooperate with deportation agents.

“We are not going to stand in their way,” said Brantley D. Starr, deputy first assistant attorney general for the state.

Local officials who refuse to cooperate with deportation efforts could lose their jobs, police chiefs could go to jail, and agencies face stiff fines of up to $25,500 a day.

Texas said in court filings that the law doesn’t require police officers to initiate immigration interrogations or arrests. Rather, it asks police and jailers to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the same way that they do with other law enforcement agencies.

Lawyers defending the statute also said it includes provisions to protect crime victims and witnesses who are immigrants, and who critics say will be less likely to work with local law enforcement if those officers are compelled to cooperate with deportation agents.

The Trump administration has praised Texas’s law and said it bolsters the president’s plans, laid out in a Jan. 25 executive order, to dramatically ramp up immigration enforcement.