Lawmakers and activists slammed a federal appeals court ruling allowing a hardline anti-immigration law to take effect in Texas.
The court said that the plaintiffs would likely mostly lose in their challenge to the state law known as SB 4. The ruling overturned one portion of the law requiring elected officials to "endorse" the law.
Local governments can't limit inquiries about the immigration status of anyone who is lawfully detained, can't bar the sharing of immigration status with federal agencies, and can't bar cooperation with federal immigration officers.
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Lawyers for Texas said the law helped ensure conformity across the state on the application of immigration law and prevented localities from adopting positions of non-cooperation with federal authorities. "Unsafe criminals shouldn't be allowed back into our communities to possibly commit more crimes".
State Sen. Jose Menendez dismissed the law as "unnecessary and politically motivated" adding it was opposed by "virtually everyone in law enforcement".
The law is one of the most controversial in recent Texas history. Under SB4, law enforcement officials who fail to comply with federal immigration efforts face a Class A misdemeanor - leading to up to a year in prison and/or a $4,000 fine - and potentially a civil penalty ranging from $1,000 to up to $25,500 per day.
"The foregoing discussion demonstrates there is no merit in their [plaintiff's] remaining arguments, and none of the other challenged provisions of SB4 facially violate the Constitution", the court document said on Tuesday.
President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made cracking down on "sanctuary cities" a key focus of the administration. Sanctuary supporters say enlisting police in deportation actions undermines community trust in local law enforcement, particularly among Latinos. "We are also pleased that the court narrowed the law in certain respects and accepted Texas' critical concession that localities are free to decline ICE requests for assistance to preserve local resources", said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "Moreover, there remain options in the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court to revisit this faulty decision as to preliminary relief".