Local Authorities Can Cooperate with Immigration Agents, Says Texas AG

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent directs a group of undocumented men
David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas Attorney General has issued a letter signing off on the legality of requiring governmental entities to cooperate with federal authorities when they are enforcing immigration laws. Police officers may also not be prohibited from verifying immigration status.

Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a letter on Tuesday stating that CSSB 4, the committee substitute for Senate Bill 4, the anti-sanctuary jurisdiction bill, is constitutional. Moreover, he said “the legal concerns raised at the hearing on the bill are unfounded.”

Breitbart Texas reported that hundreds opposing an anti-sanctuary haven bill descended on the Texas Capitol in Austin on February 2. The Senate Committee on State Affairs hearing on Senate Bill 4 began at 8:30 a.m. and continued until after midnight. Protesters erupted in chants in the Senate Gallery and were escorted out. Most of those who signed up to speak were against the anti-sanctuary city/campus bill. Speakers and legislators questioned the legality of the proposed legislation, including whether detainers are lawful.

Jackson County Sheriff A.J. (Andy) Louderback told Breitbart Texas after the hearing, “All they did today was incite fear, misinformation, and try to twist what the legislation does and says … They are trying to say the bill creates state and local immigration officials. This is simply not true. All the bill is about is honoring ICE (U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement) detainers.” Moreover he stressed, “Witnesses to a crime have never been a target of ICE.”

The author of the bill, Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) told those watching that his bill was not a deportation bill.

In his letter Tuesday, the Texas AG noted that questions were also raised about whether counties could be liable for holding inmates pursuant to a wrongful detainer. In that instance, a county’s good faith will avoid liability in a civil rights action.

Breitbart Texas reported about Senate Bill 4’s provisions when it was pre-filed by Sen. Perry in mid-November, and when lawmakers held a press conference to announce the senate committee hearing and their pledge to pass anti-sanctuary city legislation. Now the Senate Committee on State Affairs has tweaked the bill working with Senator Perry and the Texas AG has said the bill is constitutional.

“Our review of the law concludes CSSB 4 is constitutional, there are viable methods for covered entities to avoid liability regarding invalid detainers, and the remainder of the legal concerns are unfounded.”

If a governmental entity violated the law, a court could take away that entity’s right to receive state grant funds if it remained in violation of the law. It could also expose the entity to civil liability for inmates who are released by the jurisdiction who were subject to a detainer but later commit felonies.

The AG’s three-page letter was issued after the Senate Committee on Senate Affairs had its public hearing on February 2 and met on February 1.

AG Paxton concluded:

In short, none of the legal concerns this letter addresses indicate that CSSB 4 is legally invalid. Moreover, CSSB 4 would make great strides to keep communities secure by requiring state and local enforcement to cooperate with federal agencies as they take care to faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States.

Breitbart Texas reported that Texas Governor Greg Abbott said during his State of the State Address that halting sanctuary cities was one of his emergency items.

A day after his address to the Texas Legislature, the Governor blocked state law enforcement grants to Travis County (Austin). Breitbart Texas reported that Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, dubbed “Sanctuary Sally,” declared the city a sanctuary jurisdiction. She has continued in her resolve and as we reported, released 39 criminal illegal aliens in the first two days after the governor stopped the funds going to her county.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.

Texas AG Ken Paxton Legal Opinion Anti-Sanctuary City Policies by lanashadwick on Scribd

Senate Bill 4 Committee Version by lanashadwick on Scribd


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