El Paso Sues to Stop Texas ‘Sanctuary’ Ban

The Texas border county of El Paso filed a federal lawsuit last week against the State to stop the “sanctuary” cities ban from going into effect, alleging the new law is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and impedes public safety efforts.

San Antonio-based law firm Garza Golando Moran, PLLC, filed the 29-page lawsuit on behalf of El Paso County, El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles, and the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund (TOPEF). The plaintiffs seek to declare the “sanctuary” ban unconstitutional and recover court costs. They also sued Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCaw in their official capacities.

In a litany of allegations, the lawsuit echoes the progressive left’s claims about the anti-sanctuary city Senate Bill 4, as xenophobic, “unprecedented, cruel, and vague” and based on “irrational, unfounded fears of immigrants,” that “invites racial profiling” of “Texans of Hispanic heritage and immigrants and their families, particularly those from Mexico, Central America, and other Spanish-speaking countries.” It asserts SB 4 will make “all Texans less safe,” usurp “existing decision-making processes of local officials, prevent the reporting of crimes, allow local law enforcement officers to demand “papers” from virtually anyone in Texas at any time, and violates the United States and Texas constitutions.

The complaint describes El Paso as the largest U.S.-Mexico Border community with 800,000-plus residents, over 82 percent of them Hispanic, and where more than 25 percent of its inhabitants are foreign born. It claims it is “impossible to detach SB 4 from the cultural context in which it was passed” by the 2017 Texas Legislature, charging the state and national 2016 elections as “riddled with nativist and anti-immigrant appeals.”

The lawsuit also asserts SB 4 is “harmful” to the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund (TOPEF), an education non-profit based in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. TOPEF says more than half of their employees and people they serve are Latino and many of them come from “immigrant, mixed-status families” who will be “particularly injured” by this law. The group claims it has “organizational and associational standing to bring this lawsuit.” The Texas Civil Rights Projects represents them in the complaint.

TOPEF’s leftist parent organization, the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), was formerly known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, the radical group implicated in massive voter registration fraud during the 2008 presidential election, among other related scams, according to Discover the Networks. ACORN advocated open-door immigration policy.

Although ACORN disbanded as a national entity in 2010, they morphed into state-level groups like the Texas Organizing Project, founded by “veteran community and electoral organizer” Ginny Goldman, who headed up ACORN’s Texas chapter. In 2016, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed her onto his executive transition team. The Oakland, California-based Social Transformation Project lists her on their Leading from the Inside Out (LIO) network. The left-wing project says it works with nearly 300 groups including MoveOn.org, the Center for Popular Democracy, and La Raza.

Allegations in this lawsuit mirror assertions made by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in a complaint filed by officials from the border town of El Cenizo one day after Abbott signed SB 4 into law.

On May 7, Abbott signed SB 4, the toughest anti-sanctuary city law in the nation. It calls for criminal and civil penalties plus steep fines for Texas sheriffs and police chiefs who refuse to honor detainer requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, Breitbart Texas reported.

Abbott said: “Let’s be clear about something. We all support legal immigration. It helped to build America and Texas,” the governor said before signing the bill. “Legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes. This law cracks down on policies like the Travis County sheriff who declared she would not detain known criminals accused of violent crimes. Those policies are sanctuary city policies and won’t be tolerated in Texas.”

On May 8, Paxton filed a preemptive lawsuit in federal court to uphold the law’s constitutionality. It goes into effect on September 1. In a statement, he told Breitbart Texas: “SB 4 is constitutional, lawful and a vital step in securing our borders,” noting the law “guarantees cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement to protect Texans. Unfortunately, some municipalities and law enforcement agencies are unwilling to cooperate with the federal government and claim that SB 4 is unconstitutional.”

Previously, Breitbart Texas reported:

Despite rumors being spread by the bill’s opponents, SB4 prohibits an officer from asking about the immigration status of any crime victim or witness to a crime. An exception is included if the person’s immigration status is germane to the crime as in a human smuggling crime, or when the victim or witness could obtain a protected immigrant status under provisions provided to a witness or crime victim.

Still, last Friday, Efrén Olivares, racial and economic justice director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, insisted SB 4 violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, he cited findings from a Soros-funded Center for American Progress study, claiming “three of every five people in Texas will be at risk of being profiled based on the color of their skin.”

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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