SAN ANTONIO – On June 1, the city of San Antonio filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to stop the state's new immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 4.
The bill, SB 4, was signed into law on May 7 by Gov. Greg Abbott and will allow police officers to question the immigration status of people they legally detain or arrest. The city of San Antonio is arguing that the bill is unconstitutional and would result in racial profiling.
The bill is scheduled to be enacted on Sept. 1.
The suit, filed in the San Antonio Division of the Western District of Texas, was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund on behalf of San Antonio City Councilman Rey Saldaña and the nonprofit groups La Unión Del Pueblo Entero, the Worker’s Defense Project and the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education.
The plaintiffs contend that if the bill is discriminatory and violates the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit names Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton as defendants.
If enacted, the law would leave it up to each individual police officer to decide whether and how they will conduct immigration checks.
The law would forbid local governments, sheriffs and police chiefs, and institutions of higher education from regulating how police question the immigration status of people they legally detain or arrest. Officials in violation of SB 4 would be subject to a misdemeanor and possible removal from office.
The plaintiffs argue that “by forbidding municipalities and colleges from creating any limiting guidance – including guidance to prevent unconstitutional racial profiling – untrained and unsupervised local police officers will disproportionately detain foreign-born and Latino individuals, especially those that do not have a Texas driver’s license.”
Abbott maintains that SB4 will protect public safety by banning “sanctuary” policies that restrict local law enforcement officers’ ability to ask about an individual’s immigration status.