IRLI Files Brief Supporting Texas Cooperative Immigration Law in El Cenizo Sanctuary City Case

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June 23, 2017

Enhancing public safety through enforcing our immigration laws

June 23, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), has filed a friend of the court brief (attached here) supporting Texas Senate Bill (SB) 4, which Attorney General Ken Paxton is defending against claims by municipalities that it unconstitutionally coerces so-called “sanctuary cities” to assist in identifying and detaining unlawfully present aliens at the request of ICE and the Border Patrol.

SB 4, which will go into effect September 1, 2017 unless blocked by a federal court order, requires Texas municipalities of all sizes, from tiny colonia El Cenizo to mega-politan Houston, to cease so-called sanctuary policies and direct their law enforcement departments to actively cooperate in holding illegal aliens, who are already in local police custody, for transfer to federal immigration authorities. Notably the cooperative enforcement actions mandated by SB 4 have already been mandated for state police agencies, like the Texas Rangers, Highway Patrol, and Department of Corrections and Justice, for many years.

Tiny El Cenizo, represented in a test case brought by a phalanx of national aliens rights lawyers coordinated by the ACLU, claims without any basis that its mayor could be gagged and subject to conviction for opposing enforcement of immigration laws, and that the recently incorporated colonia is a local “sovereign” that cannot be coerced by the federal government into depriving illegal aliens of a claimed constitutional right not to be arrested by police on civil immigration charges, such as being unlawfully present in the United States.

IRLI Director of Litigation Chris Hajec commented, “The Texas constitution is clear that all municipalities must defer to state legislation, whatever the personal views of their officials. The Texas legislature has patriotically decided that federal immigration law is to be enforced consistently and uniformly throughout the state, with no exemptions for Texas communities with large numbers of illegal inhabitants. If cooperation with federal immigration officers, such as responding to federal detainer requests and warrants to hold verified illegal aliens wanted for removal proceedings in our nation’s immigration courts, is somehow unconstitutional for El Cenizo, it would have to be also unconstitutional for the Texas Highway Patrol and the state prison system. It is regrettable that nullification arguments made by confederate ideologues and segregationists in generations past are being revived in 2017 by elected officials in cities with major illegal immigration problems.”

The lawsuit, City of El Cenizo et al v. State of Texas et al., is pending before federal District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio. Major communities including El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, and Travis County are seeking to intervene in the case. In recognition of the serious potential threat to the authority of Congress and the President that would arise should SB 4 be blocked by a federal judge, the U.S. Department of Justice has also made an appearance.

IRLI Executive Director Dale L. Wilcox commented, “With our extensive experience in the field of state and local enforcement of immigration law, IRLI was able to quickly point out the legal flaws and falsehoods in this novel but dangerous case.” Wilcox continued, “We are confident that the citizens of Texas will ultimately prevail in their campaign for the fair and consistent rule of law in the vital field of immigration enforcement.”

For additional information, contact: Jade Haney • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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