Sanctuary cities lawsuit heads to court Monday

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon  KUT

"The Department of Justice fully supports Texas's effort and is participating in this lawsuit because of the strong federal interest in facilitating the state and local cooperation that is critical in enforcing our nation's immigration laws", Sessions added. Some members of Congress have raised concerns about spending limited federal dollars to deport otherwise law-abiding immigrants, who are often parents of US citizens.

Under Texas law, police officers generally can not arrest people without probable cause of a crime, and immigration violations often end up in civil court, versus a criminal court.

Hundreds of protesters are expected at U.S. District Court on Cesar Chavez Boulevard for the 9:30 a.m. hearing.

"Upholding the law would send a bad signal to other states that they can enact similar or even more draconian laws", said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who will argue the case Monday.

"Under SB 4, local entities must enforce federal immigration law and must do so regardless of whether such enforcement will divert resources away from more pressing police needs", they said in court filings.

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Gov. Greg Abbott (R) says the law would enhance public safety by ensuring that sanctuary cities turn over immigrants who have been arrested for crimes.

"We could be removed from office if we endorse a policy that is different from the law", Austin Mayor Steve Adler said outside court, adding that the law violates constitutional protections of free speech.

Opponents of the law, including the cities of Houston and Dallas, argued that the law's vagueness is one of their biggest concerns.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending a new Texas law created to crack down on sanctuary cities, the Washington Examiner reports. They argue that existing federal law does not impose any requirement to comply with detainer orders.

Civil rights advocate Al Maldonado said the new law encourages stereotyping and racial profiling of innocent people of color by Texas law-enforcement officers.

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Ten states - including Texas - have backed the Trump administration in the San Francisco case.

Although buoyed by that decision, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the new case say the issues involving the Texas law are broader.

Several states have expressed support for the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants, and some have banned "sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate with ICE.

Immigrants United spoke about the effects of this fight here in Texas.

A handful of Texas cities - including Austin - are now suing the state, saying the law promotes discrimination.

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