United States appeals court upholds Texas law targeting sanctuary cities

United States appeals court upholds Texas law targeting sanctuary cities

A USA appeals court panel on Tuesday upheld most of a Republican-backed Texas law to punish "sanctuary cities", allowing it to remain in effect while the case is being fought in a lower court. Cities, law enforcement personnel and elected officials must immediately begin to cooperate fully with the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration or face harsh penalties for resisting.

The law allows police officers to ask people during routine stops whether they're in the USA legally and threatens sheriffs with jail time for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The White House has been blocked by judges elsewhere in the country from taking away federal funding from cities that shelter undocumented immigrants, whom President Donald Trump has characterized as interlopers that take jobs and social services that rightfully belong to us citizens. "Enforcing immigration law prevents the release of individuals from custody who have been charged with serious crimes".

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, which is helping with the case against the law, said after the ruling that it will look at challenging its enforcement, rather than the law itself, now that it is going into effect. Local sanctuary-city "ordinances regulate whether and to what extend the local entities will participate in federal-local immigration enforcement cooperation".

U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones wrote in the court's opinion that the Arizona law - which was partially blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court - was more "problematic" because it mandated the questions during traffic stops. Critics also fear it will lead to the racial profiling of Hispanics and put officers in untenable positions.

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for several of the plaintiffs, said they were considering whether to appeal and would probably make a decision this week. "We are also pleased that the court narrowed the law in certain respects".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly said that sanctuary cities in the United States harbor illegal immigrants who pose a threat to U.S. national security.

Mike Siegel, assistant city attorney in Austin and a Democratic candidate for Congress, tweeted that Tuesday's ruling is a "terrible result". But she said her department would follow the law as directed by the courts.

"Dangerous criminals shouldn't be allowed back into our communities to possibly commit more crimes", Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in response to the decision. The only part of the Texas law removed by the court was a portion prohibiting local officials from "endorsing" policies that limit immigration enforcement. The case then went to the 5th Circuit.

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