AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Texas’ tough new “sanctuary cities” law (all times local):
A Latino rights groups says it has filed what may be the first lawsuit challenging a new “sanctuary cities” ban in Texas that allows local police to ask a person during routine stops whether they’re in the U.S legally.
Luis Vera is an attorney with the League of United Latin American Citizens. He says he filed the challenge Monday on behalf of a small town near the border with Mexico called El Cenizo, which has had a “safe haven” ordinance since 1999 that prohibits city employees from asking about a person’s immigration status.
The ACLU and other groups have also pledged to fight Texas in court over the law signed Sunday by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Texas has already asked a federal court to pre-emptively find that the law known as SB4 is constitutional.
Abbott says the ban is needed to keep immigrant criminals off the streets and will stand up in court.
Texas has taken the unusual step of preemptively suing to stop lawsuits challenging its new “sanctuary cities” ban.
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office filed the federal lawsuit Monday, a day after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law.
The law, which is slated to take effect in September, would let police officers ask people about their immigration status during routine traffic stops. Paxton argues that it is constitutional and vital to security the state’s border with Mexico.
The lawsuit targets immigrant rights groups and local officials who are likely to challenge the law. Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund, called the lawsuit frivolous.
The Mexican government is expressing regret over a new Texas ban on so-called sanctuary cities, saying the law could step on the rights of its citizens who choose to live just across the border.
The Secretary of Foreign Relations on Monday said in a statement that the Texas law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott “criminalizes even more the phenomenon of immigration.” It says the law foments racial discrimination and will reduce collaboration between police and immigrant communities.
Mexico is Texas’ largest trading partner and shares close ties with the state.
Abbott on Sunday night signed the bill that allows police to ask a person about their immigration status during routine traffic stops. He says the law does away with those who “seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”
San Antonio’s police chief says the department will abandon a policy prohibiting officers in the nation’s seventh-largest city from asking about a person’s immigration status due to Texas’ new law banning so-called sanctuary cities.
Chief William McManus on Monday ripped Republican lawmakers over the law signed Sunday night, which opponents say is the nation’s most anti-immigrant law since an Arizona crackdown in 2010.
Texas’ law takes effect in September and will allow police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during routine stops. McManus says that could include people even stopped for jaywalking.
He says a written department policy prohibiting questions about immigration status was added several years ago following community meetings.
Abbott says the law will help fulfill a duty to keep “dangerous criminals off our streets.”
Critics say it will lead to Hispanics being racially profiled.
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