Immigration Law

ACLU issues Texas travel warning after state adopts sanctuary cities ban and sues to enforce it

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Texas has filed a lawsuit that seeks to enforce its new law imposing criminal penalties on police officers who fail to cooperate with immigration officials.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure into law on Sunday, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit (PDF) on Monday, report the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News and the Austin American-Statesman.

The American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, has issued a “travel alert” informing people traveling through the state that the law gives police officers the right to investigate a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops. The law could lead to widespread racial profiling, the ACLU asserts in a press release.

The law takes effect in September. It provides that any sheriff or police officer who fails to carry out detainer requests is guilty of a misdemeanor, which could lead to jail time. Local law enforcement agencies that violate the law can be fined up to $1,500 for a first violation and up to $25,500 for a second violation. And local officials who prevent cooperation with federal immigration officers can be removed from office.

Defendants named in the federal suit include the city of Austin, its elected officials, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“Defendants flout the policies mandated by Texas law and object that the legislation is unconstitutional,” the suit says.

The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the new law does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable seizures, that the law has no discriminatory purpose and does not violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee, and that the law does not conflict with federal law.

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