SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A federal judge Monday questioned the reach of a new Texas “sanctuary cities” law supported by the Trump administration but that four of the nation’s largest cities, some police chiefs and immigrant-rights groups are trying to stop taking effect in September.
Hundreds of protesters, waving flags and carrying signs that read “Stop Separation of Families,” packed the plaza outside a San Antonio courthouse where U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will decide whether Texas can carry out the law that President Donald Trump’s Justice Department says is in-line with its crackdown on immigration.
A daylong court hearing about the constitutionality of the law — the first hearing since Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill known as SB4 in May — ended without Garcia ruling whether he will let Texas enforce the law. He did not set a timetable for a decision.
The law allows police officers to question people about their immigration status during routine stops and threatens police chiefs and elected officials with jail time and removal from office if they don’t comply with federal immigration requests to detain immigrants in the country illegally.
The four largest cities in Texas — San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Dallas — are suing to block the measure and their attorneys told Garcia that his ruling could determine if other states to pursue copycat measures. Lawyers for the Texas attorney general’s office responded that the new law has less teeth than Arizona’s “Show Me Your Papers” measure in 2010 that the was partially struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I’ll suggest that what we had in Arizona was a far more aggressive piece of legislation,” said Darren McCarty, special counsel to the Texas attorney general.