Recently, Houston’s City Council voted to approve a lawsuit against the state to challenge Senate Bill 4, the so-called “sanctuary cities” law.
The council voted by a 10-6 margin to join Dallas, San Antonio and Austin in the lawsuit challenging the legislation.
The vote followed more than five hours of testimony in a public hearing to discuss which actions the city’s leaders should take regarding the controversial law.
What Is A Sanctuary City?
The news media has adopted the term “sanctuary city” for those jurisdictions in which law enforcement agencies refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials’ orders.
Senate Bill 4 allows law enforcement officials to ask suspects about their immigration status. The law, which goes into effect on September 1, would also punish local law enforcement agencies that refused to cooperate with federal requests to detain illegal immigrants.
How Does SB4 Impact Houston?
According to the Pew Research Center, Houston has the highest number of illegal immigrants of any city in Texas and is the third-highest in the U.S. behind New York and Los Angeles.
SB4 would make all Texas law enforcement agencies effective extensions of federal immigration agencies. These additional duties could place a severe strain on an already-overextended law enforcement community in Houston, as well as create an adversarial relationship between police and Houston’s large, growing immigrant community.
What Is The Basis For The Lawsuit?
The lawsuit was filed on May 8 in a San Antonio federal court by law enforcement agencies in South Texas, along with the League of United Latin American Citizens. The lawsuit claims SB4 is unconstitutional because it violates First Amendment protections of free speech and equal protection under the law.
What Happens Next?
A motion for a preliminary injunction to stop SB4 from going into effect will be held in San Antonio on Monday. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will hear the motion and decide if SB4 will still go into effect on September 1.