City of Austin Votes To Sue Texas Over Anti-Sanctuary Law

(Daily Caller News Foundation) The Austin City Council voted Thursday to countersue the state of Texas over a recently enacted ban of sanctuary cities, setting up a legal fight that could expand to include other cities.

City of Austin Votes To Sue Texas Over Anti-Sanctuary Law 1

Greg Casar/IMAGE: YouTube

By a 10 to 1 vote, the council approved legal action against Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), reports Austin’s NBC affiliate KXAN. The controversial law imposes criminal penalties on law enforcement officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities and allows local police to ask about suspects’ immigration status.

Council member Greg Casar had previously indicated the city’s intent to move forward with a lawsuit, warning Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday: “We’ll see you in court.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a preemptive lawsuit against the Austin City Council, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez May 8, just one day after Abbott signed SB 4 into law. State lawyers are asking a federal district court to find that SB 4 does not violate the Fourth Amendment right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures or the 14th Amendment right to equal protection.

(RELATED: Texas Files Lawsuit Against Potential Opponents Of New Anti-Sanctuary Law)

 In a statement defending the law’s constitutional sanction, Paxton said that Texas cities such as Austin have a “clear duty to continue holding undocumented and suspected criminal aliens.”

“[The law] is constitutional, lawful and a vital step in securing our borders,” Paxton added. “Unfortunately, some municipalities and law enforcement agencies are unwilling to cooperate with the federal government and claim that SB 4 is unconstitutional.”

Casar, who was arrested this month for refusing to leave Abbott’s office during a protest, rejected Paxton’s assertion. In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, Casar said that SB 4 is, “The most dangerous type of legislative threat facing immigrants in our country.”

The council member questioned the legality of a provision of SB 4, which opponents call a “show me your papers” bill. It permits police officers to question the immigration status of anyone they arrest or detain, including the subjects of traffic stops.

“This provision resembles those in laws passed in Arizona and Alabama in recent years, both of which invited national scorn and were partially struck down when challenged in court,” Casar wrote.

The Texas Attorney General’s office declined to comment on pending litigation, but a spokesman for the governor told The Daily Caller News Foundation that SB 4’s opponents are misrepresenting what the bill requires police officers to do.

“The law does not require mandatory immigration checks, it simply prohibits local sheriffs from banning law enforcement officials from inquiry into the immigration status of persons already lawfully detained,” John Wittman, Abbott’s press secretary, wrote in an email. “Before a person can be detained, law enforcement must have probable cause that a crime has been committed. Even then, law enforcement officers are not required to ask about legal status.”

Democratic officials in other Texas cities — including Dallas, Houston and El Paso — are also weighing options to contest SB 4, possibly by assisting Austin in a defense against the state lawsuit or filing their own lawsuits against the state.

(RELATED: Texas Cities Plan Legal Fight Against Anti-Sanctuary Law)

“Next week out in the Dallas City Council, we will be discussing intervening in the case, coming to the aid of Austin,” said Dallas City Council Member Philip Kingston at an anti-SB 4 rally on Tuesday. “Because we have a large city attorney’s office, we have a lot of resources and the fight is now in the court and it’s time to all stand together.”

Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation via iCopyright license.

  • Cadfael

    Maybe Austin’s progressive-aggressive “loud crowd” should move back to California, Oregon, New York, and Massachusetts from whence they came, stop occupying the capital of Texas, and interfering in Texas complying with federal law. Here’s a hint: “Don’t mess with Texas, … remember the Alamo!”

    • buzzy

      On a scale of one to five jalpeno’s sir….you get five……very good reply…..this loud mouth bunch in Austin needs to be stopped and we need to check and see if they are originally Texans or plants from the places you suggested by the rent-a-mob……bunch of crybabies……what is it with these people…is it the space between the word illegal????aliens that throws them into a little crybaby tirade….grow up snowflakes…..We are not changing the CONSTITUTION OR THE LAW OF THE LAND OR TEXAS FOR YOU BUNCH OF CRYBABIES……SO SHUTUP…GET A JOB…..AND GROW UP……..

  • rad77red

    the protests against this bill are CRAZY , the bill is only for ILLEGAL aliens !!!!! what’s illegal about that ?? if they are legal residents they don’t have anything to worry about anyway !!!!

  • therealworld

    and while they fight this they might be doing it from jail if they don’t follow the law

  • therealworld

    Liberal Wack Jobs aren’t welcome in Texas any longer.

  • Robert Johnson

    “Casar said that SB 4 is, ‘The most dangerous type of legislative threat facing immigrants in our country.’”
    The leftist liberals ALWAYS forget the operative word “ILLEGAL” when they make this nonsensical argument. Law abiding immigrants who enter through the proper channels have been welcomed into America since it’s beginning.