5th Circuit upholds Texas ban on sanctuary city policies, with an exception

Protesters in Texas denouncing SB4 that state's law banning

Protesters in Texas denouncing SB4 that state's law banning"sanctuary cities

Tuesday's decision will allow the so-called "sanctuary cities" law to take effect while the case against it plays out.

Texas's law - which goes several steps further than Trump's plan to withhold federal funding from cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration policies - was rammed through the Republican-controlled legislature in May despite loud protests by minority-rights groups, law enforcement officials, students and immigrants.

"I'm pleased the 5th Circuit recognized that Senate Bill 4 is lawful, constitutional and protects the safety of law enforcement officers and all Texans", said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

A separate panel of judges ruled in September that the detainer provision could stand until a final determination was made. "Unsafe criminals shouldn't be allowed back into our communities to possibly commit more crimes".

It was a three judge panel from the United States Fifth Court of Appeals who upheld the ruling which was reversed in August from a federal judge in San Antonio who temporarily blocked officials from enforcing the ban on sanctuary cities. The panel also stated that law enforcement officers, including campus police, with "authority that may impact immigration" can not be prevented from assisting federal immigration officers.

Texas, however, had been a rare bright spot for the Trump administration, with state officials moving to back him up in opposing sanctuaries.

But he did not halt the part of the bill that says police chiefs, sheriffs and other department heads can not forbid officers from questioning a person's immigration status, which means that Texas has been what opponents of the measure call a "papers please" state since the law took effect. "I am looking forward to an appeal regarding the constitutionality of this misguided, anti-immigrant law".

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen stands with a group of Texas sheriffs opposing sanctuary-city policies in December in Austin
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"We will continue to follow the law as provided to us by the courts in this matter and we will rise to the challenge of keeping Travis County safe, although our ability to overcome fear and foster cooperation within the immigrant community is a greater challenge now".

But the fight isn't over.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented some of the plaintiffs, said it is exploring its legal options.

"The court made clear that we remain free to challenge the manner in which the law is implemented, so we will be monitoring the situation on the ground closely", said Gelernt, who argued the case before the US Court of Appeals.

"The latest ruling underscores why local officials - on county and city levels - must act immediately to end the arrest-to-deportation pipeline that we've tragically come to know firsthand in recent months", Karen Muñoz of Mano Amiga said.

"This is not the first time we've had to detour through the 5th Circuit", wrote State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) on Twitter. "It's ok to be upset".

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