City of Houston Joins Lawsuit Against Texas ‘Sanctuary’ Ban

Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos - City Lawsuit on SB3 - Fox 26 Greg Groogan
Photo: Greg Groogan/Fox 26 Houston

The City of Houston, home of an MS-13 gang Tier 1 threat, has joined the bandwagon with other cities in Texas to sue over the State’s new anti-sanctuary ban.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on June 8 that he wanted to join other Texas cities to sue over Senate Bill 4. He tweeted that he was going to ask the Houston City Council to vote on whether “to join the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of SB4.” The City Council voted 10 to 6 to sue, reported the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the anti-sanctuary jurisdiction ban into law on May 7.

Senate Bill 4 allows police officers to inquire about the immigration status of a person they have detained. Governor Abbott told Breitbart Texas in an exclusive interview that the Arizona law, which was struck down, required police officers to check the immigration status of people they encounter. The Texas law “allows” but does not “require” it, he explained. Abbott said this provision of the bill had been tested and upheld – even by the liberal justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune (UT/TT) poll shows that 58 percent of Texas voters either strongly support or somewhat support a requirement for local law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, Breitbart Texas reported on Tuesday. It also found that voters believe that local law enforcement officers should have the right to ask people about their immigration status.

Governor Abbott told Breitbart Texas that officials who implement sanctuary policies and release criminal aliens with detainers will now be subject to the “stiffest penalties in America.” Senate Bill 4 makes it a crime (Class A misdemeanor) for law enforcement officials to refuse to cooperate with immigration officials and give “sanctuary” to the criminal illegal aliens in their jails. Sheriffs and police chiefs could also be removed from office.

U.S. Immigration and  Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a report on March 20 exposing sanctuary jurisdictions that released criminal aliens subject to an immigration detainer. Travis County was ranked number one in the nation, Breitbart Texas reported. Well over 70 percent of the 206 criminal aliens released between January 28 to February 3 were released by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Travis County Sheriff “Sanctuary Sally” Hernandez has denied that she is not in compliance.

Provisions of SB 4 also provide that local entities, a state justice agency, or campus police department, could be fined up to $25,500 a day. These governmental bodies could also not receive state grant funds.

The cities of San AntonioEl Paso, Dallas, Austin, and the small Texas border city of El Cenizo have all sued to block Senate Bill 4 from becoming law on September 1 of this year.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), La Unión Del Pueblo Entero, the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), and the Worker’s Defense Project (WDF) are partners in filing the lawsuits.

Breitbart Texas reported that the State of Texas considers the MS-13 gang to be a Tier 1-level threat – the “most significant” threat level. We have also reported that the rise of violence by the Mara Salvatrucha gang has dramatically impacted crime in the fourth-largest city in the United States. The leadership of the gang is based in El Salvador and Honduras.

An official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Tuesday that MS-13 members are “increasingly the most violent and well-organized.” Moreover, the gang frequently recruits children who are illegal immigrants and “those emigrating from El Salvador to the United States are known to be exposed and desensitized to extreme violence at an early age.” “Their motivation is rooted in a desire to kill for the sake of killing. The attacks on their victims are gruesome, typically up close and personal. They often involve mutilation and dismemberment and are sometimes recorded,” the FBI official told members of the subcommittee.

In March, two 18-year-old MS-13 gang members were in a Houston courtroom laughing and waving at news cameras after they had been charged with the kidnapping and rape of a 14-year-old girl, and the kidnapping, rape, and murder of another young girl. The girl that was slaughtered was allegedly killed as part of a satanic ritual.

Breitbart Texas has reported that the numbers of unaccompanied minors (UACs), particularly from El Salvador, has been on the rise. Although there had been a six-month downtrend, 8,005 UACs from El Salvador have been apprehended after crossing the border illegally since October 1, 2016.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced in April the creation of a Texas Anti-Gang Task Force to target these gang members. Houston is one of the five cities that the FBI has identified to have a large MS-13 presence.

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

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