In preemptive move, Paxton files suit to uphold constitutionality of 'sanctuary cities' bill

The bill was fast tracked through the 85th legislature with plenty of debate swirling around it -- and now a lawsuit will force the conversation to continue in court.

AUSTIN - On the same day Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against various political figures in the City of Austin, requesting the court to declare the law constitutional.

Senate Bill 4 requires all Texas law enforcement agencies to comply with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement detainers -- meaning local law enforcement will have to hold an arrested person until their immigration status is checked with ICE.

READ MORE: Protesters flock to Governor's mansion after so-called 'sanctuary city' bill becomes law

According to the suit filed May 7, Paxton's reasoning for taking legal action is "to avoid a multiplicity of suits in various forms" questioning the constitutionality of the law from the defendants, which include Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, the City of Austin, Austin City Council Member Greg Casar, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and a host of other people affiliated with Travis County.

Go here to read the lawsuit.

In response to the lawsuit being filed against him, Council Member Greg Casar released a statement that reads:

 
“Yesterday evening the Governor tried to hide from public accountability by signing this discriminatory bill on a Sunday night in his office. Then, the Texas Attorney General sued me and my colleagues for questioning the constitutionality of this immoral and unethical law. Texas’ top leaders are trying to coerce local elected officials into betraying our immigrant communities. They cannot crush our solidarity or our Constitution.

Since the Tea Party wave in 2010, the State of Texas has been found guilty by federal judges on at least six different occasions of passing intentionally discriminatory laws. Senate Bill 4 is another such racist and unconstitutional mandate.

Last week’s action at the Governor’s office and the immediate response after Abbott’s cowardly bill-signing are proof that many of us across Texas are drawing a line in the sand. Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against us, communities are refusing to back down. Instead of complying with the Governor’s mandates, we will double down on our pro-immigrant policies. Instead of being silenced by the Attorney General’s threats, we will rise up and speak truth to power.

The fight against Senate Bill 4 is just beginning.”

The city of Austin released a statement in response to the lawsuit:

"We are aware of the lawsuit filed by Ken Paxton regarding Senate Bill 4. The City of Austin has been opposed to this legislation from its beginning. Our law enforcement professionals have told us this legislation will make our community less safe by degrading the relationship between our residents and the police who protect them.

The Law Department will defend the protected speech of our Mayor, City Council members, and City Manager who have been personally named in this lawsuit."

Mayor Adler also released a statement:

"For five months, we've been on the sidelines while the legislature has treated Austin's safety like a political football. I'm glad the action is moving to court where it's not about politics, it's about the law. A judge will decide whether the United States of America or Texas determines federal immigration policy and whether local police and prosecutors have the discretion to keep their communities safe. I was elected by the people of Austin, and I will continue to speak on their behalf." 

In a statement about the lawsuit, Paxton said:

"Governments throughout Texas have a clear duty to continue holding undocumented and suspected criminal aliens pursuant to ICE detainers,” Paxton said. “This is a public safety issue that requires swift resolution. If a Texas sheriff or other law enforcement authority cannot lawfully honor an ICE detainer, dangerous people will slip through the cracks of the justice system and back into our communities. As a nation of laws, it is imperative that SB 4 is fully honored in Texas.”

This is a developing story. KVUE will update this page as more information becomes available.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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