A US appeals court panel on Tuesday upheld most of a Republican-backed Texas law to punish 'sanctuary cities, ' allowing it to remain in effect while the case is being fought in a lower court. This month, the administration sued California, accusing it of trying to "obstruct the United States' enforcement of federal immigration law".
Plaintiffs contend the law could lead to racial profiling and divert resources from local police, who would be under the threat of job loss and fines if they do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
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Mr. Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said his organization would also be monitoring how the law was carried out.
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In Texas, the fight over a new law known as Senate Bill 4 has raged for more than a year, roiling the Republican-controlled Legislature and once provoking a near-fistfight between lawmakers in the state Capitol. Tuesday's decision will allow the so-called "sanctuary cities" law to take effect while the case against it plays out. Police chiefs and sheriffs also warn it will make communities less safe, as immigrants shy away from reporting crimes or serving as witnesses for fear of calling attention to themselves or family members. Critics complain this so-called "show me your papers" provision will lead to racial profiling of USA citizens and law-abiding immigrants. At Nov. 7 oral arguments, the judges told lawyers they were concerned the harsh penalties could chill individuals' constitutional right to speak out personally against the ban. "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". After the governor signed the bill during a Facebook Live in May, the city of El Cenizo and Maverick County sued to stop the law and was joined by several local governments, including the cities of Houston, Austin and San Antonio, as well as El Paso County. But she said her department would follow the law as directed by the courts.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans allows Texas to enforce what critics call the toughest state-level immigration measure since Arizona passed what critics called a "Show Me Your Papers" law in 2010.
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defended the state's sanctuary-city ban as necessary to protect citizens from criminal immigrants whose presence makes USA communities "more unsafe by the day".